My mom was fired today. What should she do next?
October 25, 2011 12:35 PM   Subscribe

My mom was fired today. What should she do next? Also, niece and school special snowflake details inside!

She was an apartment manager, and lived on property - she's required to be out of her apartment 11/8. We have a place for her to move into, so that is not an issue.

I know she should
1. Make sure she gets her COBRA paperwork (they have 14 days)
2. File for unemployment
3. Move, then start looking for another job.

What else should we do? Any suggestions on how to find food/any other specific assistance would be welcome.

She has a lot of health issues, so she really needs her health insurance - what other options does she have other than paying the health premium? Going to a health center? Do they still offer free/sliding scale medicine?

She does have a reference letter from her employer. (Yes, she was fired, but they gave her a letter of reference. He's grasping at straws to make occupancy better.)

Additionally, my niece has just started doing better in school, but driving back and forth to school from her new place is not really going to be practical. Any experience with transferring a kid mid-semester? Is it going to be that much more harmful to move her in the middle than it would be to move her during December break?
posted by needlegrrl to Work & Money (16 answers total)
If she was well and truly fired, getting unemployment could be a challenge: there's usually no benefits when someone is fired for cause. So that's something you're going to need to look at carefully and may require the involvement of a local employment attorney.

COBRA is ludicrously expensive. But you may find that she can get coverage on the private market, pre-existing conditions or no, because she's already got coverage. The main concern with pre-existing conditions is not that a new client will have health problems, but that people will wait until they have health problems before they buy insurance. Get a "certificate of credible coverage" from her current health carrier and use that to shop for coverage on the private market. It may not be cheap, but I'd be surprised if she wasn't able to get a policy somewhere. A broker might be in order.

And, umm, how does your niece enter into it, exactly? This is your mom we're talking about, yes? Either way, if we're talking about public school, mid-semester transfers happen all the time as kids and their parents move around. Just call the district and tell them what's up. It's unlikely that anyone will even bat an eye.
posted by valkyryn at 12:45 PM on October 25, 2011

This is really dependent on location, but in general her ability to get benefits is likely to depend on her assets, savings, whether she's able to get unemployment, disability, etc.

Google her state's department of social or health services. See if her city has 3-1-1 (like 9-1-1, but for non-emergency social services). Check with her utility company to see if she qualifies for low-income assistance with heating costs. Check with her prescription drug companies to see if they have assistance programs. I agree with valkyryn that she should shop around for insurance. COBRA is stupidly expensive.

I also don't understand how your niece fits into this - can you give more detail?
posted by desjardins at 1:04 PM on October 25, 2011

I'm assuming the niece lives with her grandmother, the OP's mother.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:07 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

What state?
posted by dgeiser13 at 1:20 PM on October 25, 2011

As an aside, don't take the "out by 11/8" thing laying down without a little more leg work. In a lot of states, much more notice must be given. In Georgia for example, we have to give 60 days notice. If she has a lot of health issues, it might be good to fight to give her a bit more time to move.
posted by stormygrey at 1:29 PM on October 25, 2011

Fired does not automatically = "for cause" (esp. in an at-will state, where you can be fired for almost anything)
posted by zippy at 1:32 PM on October 25, 2011 [4 favorites]

Keep in mind that in all states I know of, you get Unemployment by default unless the employer contests it. It sounds like the employer felt pretty guilty, since he gave her a reference letter. So I doubt he would contest it, but she could reach out and confirm with him.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:33 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Stormygrey, becuase she was living in a "manager's unit" the usual 30-day or 60-day notice doesn't apply.

She should definitely apply for unemployment. The worst that could happen is they fight the claim, and even then, she would be entitled to a hearing.
posted by vespabelle at 1:41 PM on October 25, 2011

If she was well and truly fired, getting unemployment could be a challenge: there's usually no benefits when someone is fired for cause.

This is a statement that is so blanket as to be inaccurate.

Unemployment varies by state. But in general what you call CAUSE has to be more than just being an -eh- employee. Missouri, for example, uses the word MISCONDUCT.

Generally "misconduct" involves an act of willful disregard of the employer's interests or a deliberate violation of the employer's rules or an intentional and substantial disregard of the employee's duty to the employer. (emphasis mine)

So being late here and again or slightly slower at restocking a shelf isn't going to meet that standard.

For most of us it is always worth keeping hold of whatever documentation of doing your job well that you can. Claiming misconduct in an employee with several years worth of positive evaluations or praising emails is challenging.

In your mother's case I'd say a letter of recommendation makes a claim of misconduct a greater challenge. But remember, that's only ONE STATE'S metric - you need to look it up for your own.
posted by phearlez at 1:42 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: She is in Georgia.
I am hoping her (ex)employer does not contest the unemployment, and if he does, she has documentation to fight her case with.

My niece figures into it as she lives with my mom - I'm just wondering if it's better to try and ferry her back and forth to school until the break in December, or to go ahead and transfer her now.

The utilities are on in the property owner's name so if she doesn't move out by the 8th, he can cut off gas and power, which we want to avoid. So, since she has a place to go, it's best to get out, I think.
posted by needlegrrl at 2:11 PM on October 25, 2011

Best answer: Transferring mid-semester is progressively more disruptive the older the kid gets. In first grade no one will care, in twelfth grade this could potentially delay graduation (depending on available classes and graduation policies in respective schools, whether or not the schools are in the same district, etc.) There's also the issue of transitioning with friends and activities. My dad drove me an hour each way for sixth grade to avoid issues like that and considered it worth it (but I was also in a special program.) You also have to consider the possibility that the district won't let her stay; that varies too much by locality for me to give you a prediction on the likelihood that a change of address form will turn into Major Drama.

Definitely file for unemployment. Also, with her health issues (depending on what they are,) she may be able to get help finding a new job from Rehabilitation Services at the Georgia Department of Labor.

Look to the Georgia Department of Human Services for food assistance, energy assistance, and Medicaid.

You're much more likely to find sliding-scale health providers in big cities, though some states have decent rural health initiatives. Is she in Atlanta?
posted by SMPA at 3:46 PM on October 25, 2011

Oh, and if she does switch off of COBRA to some private health insurance policy, Needy Meds has a list of places to go for help for filling out assistance paperwork.
posted by SMPA at 3:51 PM on October 25, 2011

Second valkyryn-- the important thing with medical coverage is having continuity. In my state, that means less than 30 days between ending one and starting another. I also found that direct coverage was cheaper than COBRA by quite a lot, but thanks to the timing of a few things, I never got to find out how hard it was to get on regular private insurance.
posted by Sunburnt at 4:38 PM on October 25, 2011

COBRA is prohibitively expensive, so be aware of that.

As to the school questions, it all depends on how old your niece is, as to how disruptive it'll be to her. I have students (high school) who transfer in mid-semester, and some adjust, and some don't. Most of the time, it's a case of repeating something they've done or trying to teach them something everyone else has already mastered.

If she's in high school, ABSOLUTELY wait until the semester (for most schools, that's only until January). If she's not, then you can probably get away with changing as long as the school helps with the transition.

The best thing you can do is go to her new school and try to figure out what they're learning, so you can help prepare her during the transition. For example, if they're reading To Kill A Mockingbird in her old school and they're reading Night at the new school, you can have her read Night before she starts. Again, that's more relevant to high school.

Good luck. What a horrible situation.
posted by guster4lovers at 10:37 PM on October 25, 2011

> If she was well and truly fired, getting unemployment could be a
> challenge: there's usually no benefits when someone is fired for
> cause.

I don't know where this idea comes from but in Ohio the opposite is true. Most of the time you can get unemployment without difficulty except when you quit. Getting fired, even with cause, does not preclure you from getting unemployment at all.
posted by dgeiser13 at 6:33 AM on October 26, 2011

Second valkyryn-- the important thing with medical coverage is having continuity. In my state, that means less than 30 days between ending one and starting another.

If you're talking about the continuous coverage provisions of HIPAA that preclude a new insurer from allowing someone to join a policy or regarding pre-existing conditions that is a federal issue, not state. And it's 63 days you need to concern yourself with, not 30.

It's of only minor help when buying individual policies. The insurer cannot refuse to take you own but they are only obligated to take you at the highest premium level they have, which can be damnable high.
posted by phearlez at 11:50 AM on October 26, 2011

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