(updated 7/20/13 by Erin Siodmak)
LES People’s Federal Credit Union: Great credit union on the LES with another location uptown. If you live in Community Board 3 (LES) you can join. Or, if you make less than $38k/year or have any one of a number of affiliations (see their website), you can also join. They offer home loan services, don’t charge crazy fees, and are really helpful and friendly. You can use a whole bunch of other ATMs without a charge. Definitely recommended if you’re trying to avoid the BoA/Chase route.
Unemployment: You can get it if you are an adjunct. GTFs and other fellowships that pay year-round make you ineligible, but anyone who adjuncts can/should get unemployment during the summer, and sometimes you can even get it during the winter break. Teaching three classes this past spring gives me $300/week (-tax) until the fall starts. I’m really glad I have it because my summer II class was cancelled and I’d be s.o.l. if I didn’t have the unemployment benefit. An important thing to know about how your rate is determined: they choose your highest earning quarter from the past year. Be sure to look over the determination! Last summer (2012), they had missed some of my employment and my rate was miscalculated. Also, you can request that they use a specific quarter (Request Alternate Base Period form), i.e. your most recent, if that will give you a higher rate. For a lot of us who taught the previous summer, the quarter we we’re paid for summer and then the start of fall is usually the best. Don’t be discouraged by the process of applying. It can be frustrating, but follow up with them and be nice on the phone!
EBT/Food Stamps: Sometimes more difficult than getting unemployment, strangely. But once you have it, you’ll likely be able to keep it for a year even if your employment status changes. And, strangely, you have to show that you are employed or are GOING TO BE employed in order to qualify (usually). I always apply at the same time I apply for unemployment. By then, you should have a summer appointment letter if you’re teaching a summer class, and at least a fall email saying you will be re-appointed. You generally have to go into the office with a bunch of documents. ALWAYS bring more than they ask for (lease, rent receipts, utilities + letters from roommate whose name is on the bill, pay stubs, employment letters, passport, license… you get the idea). The online application is easy, and then they usually call you. Be prepared for this call! This last time I applied, the call came before I even got the letter telling me when they’d be calling. I definitely recommend applying for EBT. The $200/month you get really helps. Be sure that you apply for yourself only. Say that you prepare food alone. Otherwise, you will have to apply jointly with the other person who will also have to be eligible.
For both of these things, don’t lie! Ever! They do keep track. I had to spend almost a year dealing with a case they brought against me (wrongly), so I can only imagine how awful the process is when you actually end up owing them a bunch of food stamp or unemployment money.
I also had Medicaid a few years back, so if you have any questions about that I might be able to help. It really saved me from a lot of debt when I didn’t have insurance. The frustrating thing about so many of these programs is that they cancel each other out in terms of eligibility. You have to make less than X to be eligible for Medicaid, but more than Y to be eligible for food stamps, and not be employed at all for unemployment. Ugh.
Feel free to contact me! firstname.lastname@example.org