NSEA Cares HelpLine

NSEA, NEA Member Benefits Offers Assistance to Members Facing Job Loss and Salary Cuts

As the country's economy begins to recover, educators are still vulnerable to layoffs and salary reductions. In addition, many NEA members have suffered losses of income by spouses and other family members.

If you are one of those educators who has lost a job, or are the spouse of someone who has lost a job, take heart. NSEA and NEA can help lessen the effect of your loss of income.

NEA Member Benefits (NEA MB) has examined its program offerings and worked with program partners to identify resources and accommodations that could potentially help affected members and their families.

Various types of support are available to program participants and members, including:

  • Job search service
  • Financial counseling
  • Mortgage assistance programs
  • Credit card and insurance payment options
  • Retirement savings waivers

A special Member Assistance page on the NEA MB Web site, neamb.com, provides details about these and other support resources. The page also includes a downloadable brochure with summary information about assistance options.

To access the Member Assistance page, visit www.neamb.com and click on the Member Assistance article on the homepage, or enter "Member Assistance" in the search box at the top of the homepage and click "Search."

In addition, members may call the NEA MB Member Service Center toll free at 1-800-637-4636 and speak to a Member Service Representative or email their questions to ask-us@neamb.com.

NEA MB will continue to investigate every possible avenue for providing relief to NEA members during these challenging times; new information will be posted to the Member Assistance page as it becomes available.

Meanwhile, each year at this time, NSEA provides resources to members whose jobs have been terminated.

Be assured that while you are coping with this situation on a very personal level, NSEA is working to resolve the problems at the local, state and national levels. Regrettably, some political leaders have chosen not to exercise options that could have minimized the budgetary impact upon education funding in general, and you specifically.

Notwithstanding these matters, be assured that NSEA continues to work and fight on your behalf. We hope that you weather this storm quickly and easily, and with the help of NSEA's resources you'll be on your way back into a classroom or school site in Nebraska. We look forward to the day when you and other dedicated professionals facing a similar situation are able to return to our schools. In the meantime, know that your NSEA colleagues across the state continue to work for full funding for public education.

NSEA Cares

First Steps Unemployment Compensation Health Insurance Job Resources
Licensure Your Budget Member Resources Reduction in Force


First Steps

If you have any indication that your job may be in jeopardy contact your Organizational Specialist at 1-800-742-0047.

Review First Aid for Members Receiving A RIF Notice.

For further information regarding your rights and the support available from NSEA, visit our Member Rights web pages.

What about Nebraska Public Employee Retirement System benefits?

NOTE: Omaha Public School employees are members of the Omaha School Employees Retirement System which is not a part of the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement System. If you are an OPS employee seeking information about your retirement benefits, visit http://www.osers.org/ or contact Mike Smith or Jim Ellis at 402.557.2102.

When you terminate service in a Nebraska public school before you become eligible for monthly retirement benefits you have the following choices:

You may leave your account on an inactive basis and continue to earn regular interest until such time as you become eligible for a benefit. You may defer receipt of your benefit until no later than April 1 following the year you reach age 70 ½.

You may withdraw your accumulated contributions and interest in a lump sum refund. To apply, you must request an Application for Refund from NPERS or print the application from the website at npers.ne.gov. If you select this option there will be tax implications. Consult your tax advisor for more information.

You are eligible to receive a refund approximately four months after your termination of employment, or no sooner than 20 days after NPERS receives your completed Application for Refund, whichever is later.

A refund cannot be paid to you if you do not work during the summer months and then return to work the following school year. Furthermore, you may not receive a refund if you terminate your employment and, within 180 days of your termination, you subsequently provide service on a regular basis in any capacity to an employer who participates in the School Plan. If you return to work prior to the end of your 180-day break, you will be required to repay the total amount of your refund.

NOTE: A direct payment over $25,000 must be released via Automated Clearing House (ACH). This is similar to a one-time direct deposit and will be made to the financial institution that you choose.

Termination of Employment
Your employer determines the date your employer-employee relationship is dissolved. The employer is required to notify NPERS of the date on which such a termination has occurred by submitting a Non-Contributing Member Form. Termination of employment does not include ceasing employment at the end of the school year if you subsequently provide service on a regular basis in any capacity for any school district other than a Class V school district within 180 calendar days after ceasing employment of if the PERB determines that a purported termination was not a bona fide separation from service with the employer [70-902(36)].

After 180 days, you may return to public school employment under all circumstances.

If you believe you may be eligible to draw monthly retirement benefits contact the Nebraska State Retirement System at the webpage or number below.


Unemployment Compensation

On the first day after your salary and benefits cease, you may apply for unemployment insurance benefits. For most school employees, this will be September 1. Please be aware that you must be actively seeking and available for employment to qualify for unemployment benefits. If you have an offer of a contract for the following academic year with any school district, or reasonable assurance of receiving a contract for the following academic year, you may be ineligible for unemployment benefits during the summer months between academic years.

If you've become unemployed through no fault of your own (such as non-renewal or RIF) and you meet the requirements for wages earned for time worked during a certain period, you'll likely qualify for unemployment benefits.

File for unemployment compensation as soon as you are eligible, as it can take several weeks for your benefits to start. The application process is painless as long as you have all your documentation collected beforehand. You can apply for unemployment over the phone or on the Internet.

To get started, visit: Official Nebraska Department of Labor | Reemployment Services. The website will give you the details on eligibility requirements and the links to apply for benefits online. It also has a useful list of unemployment FAQs.

You can also call (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.--5 p.m. Central Time): (402) 458-2500; Deaf & Hard of Hearing (TTY) call (402) 471-0016.

Local Nebraska Workforce Development Offices can be found at: Official Nebraska Department of Labor | Reemployment Services

    • Your Social Security Number
    • Alien Registration Number (If you are not a U.S. Citizen)
    • Nebraska Drivers License Number or Nebraska ID (If you have one)
    • Names, addresses and dates worked of all employers within the last 18 months.
    • You will be asked to make a selection of Debit Card or Direct Deposit to receive your benefits. If you select Direct Deposit, be prepared to enter your bank routing and account number.



Health Insurance

Most school districts in Nebraska have insurance provided through the Educators Health Alliance. Your rights as to the length of time you will continue to be covered by EHA or some other carrier used by your district will vary depending upon your local Negotiated Agreement. If you receive a RIF notice and it either indicates that you will not, or is unclear about whether you will, receive summer health insurance coverage, you should immediately contact your school district in order to resolve this issue. NSEA members can contact their Organizational Specialist for further assistance.

At the point where your district properly ceases health insurance coverage, both federal and state law guarantee persons who are covered by group health insurance policies the right to continue this coverage at their own expense. Federal law (commonly known as "COBRA") applies if a school district employs more than 20 employees and offers a group health insurance plan. If your District is part of the EHA it is likely that you may have alternatives that last longer than the COBRA period of 18 months.

Click here for more on COBRA, including coverage based on the federal stimulus package. NSEA members can contact their Organizational Specialist for specifics.


Job Resources

Even in a sluggish economy, it's not news that Nebraska has a shortage of available teachers in certain areas of the state and subject areas. There are a few things you should do to prepare to market yourself to prospective employers:

    • Take time to do a self evaluation of your job skills. Reflect upon your strengths and weaknesses. Add endorsements to your teaching license, if appropriate.
    • Revise your resume to accurately reflect your skills, strengths and experiences.
    • Be sure to ask for a written letter of recommendation from your principal, supervisor or colleagues. This may give you an indication of what might be said about you as an employee if they are asked and helps you be prepared to provide names of individuals as references when you are in an interview.

Public School Job Opportunities
For a one-stop internet portal to instructional employment in a Nebraska public school district, visit:

NDE Teach In Nebraska – Teaching Jobs In Nebraska

This web site provides a convenient listing of positions for teachers, higher education faculty, support staff professionals and administrative positions from school districts throughout the state.

Sadly, we realize we will lose quality teachers because of budget cuts. Here are job opportunity resources for states surrounding Nebraska. We hope teachers, higher education faculty and support staff who are forced to leave can return to Nebraska schools.

School Spring-Teaching Jobs in Colorado
Teach Iowa | Iowa Department of Education (educateiowa.gov)
Teach in Kansas
School Spring-Teaching Jobs in Missouri
Teach in Wyoming http://ptsb.state.wy.us/Employment/tabid/60/Default.aspx

Additional job resources:
Recruiting Teachers.org

NSEA members - Your Organizational Specialist has various workshops and resources available upon request. Workshops include resume writing and interview skills. Also, NSEA/NEA's network of teachers across the state and country will help any member check out the best -- and worst -- jobs. NSEA members should visit with a Organizational Specialist for the name and phone number of the right person to call to check out the school or district before you apply.

When you are back on the job

We hope that your professional skills will land you a new job soon. There are a few things to be cautious about, like out of field placement, part time assignments and loss of benefits. You have rights when you are rehired in Nebraska, and it is important you know them. Ask your local association about experience credit, sick leave accrual transfer, and your contract status. Before you accept a position we encourage you to contact your local association or Organizational Specialist to discuss your options, the benefits, and the pitfalls that may lie ahead.


Licensure: Keeping Your License Current

Even when you are unemployed, renewing your teaching license is part of your professional responsibility. For a quick look at your options, access the Nebraska Department of Education Teacher Certification Web pages http://www.education.ne.gov/TCERT/index.html. Contact the Nebraska Department of Education Certification Office (1-402-471-0739) for further assistance.

NSEA members - one of your benefits of membership is expert advice on teacher licensure. If you have questions or concerns, contact your Organizational Specialist.


Managing your budget during unemployment

Now that your income has been cut off, the issue of money is front and center. The main thing is not to make any rash decisions. It is time to sit down and plan.

Create a budget

    • Prioritize your monthly expenditures starting with the things you must have: food, housing, electricity, health and car insurance, etc. Then look at the other expenditures you make each month and decide what you can cut back on. Don't forget future expenses when creating your budget such as income or property tax, and any outstanding debts.
    • Take a look at the things you can do without and find ways to cut spending now. In these uncertain times it is better to do without now than be struggling later. Decide what are luxuries and what are necessities. Little cut-backs add up. If you have retained your association membership, check for coupons and savings from Membership Benefits | NSEA

Be careful with credit.

    • It is better to make the minimum payments on your credit cards than get behind, that way your credit rating won't suffer. Use credit cards only in emergencies, such as unexpected medical or dental expenses.
    • Re-evaluate your car insurance. Talk to your agent about ways to save. It might mean looking at a higher deductible, for instance. You just have to decide what is best for you.
    • Talk to your family about what is happening, but be reassuring: "Things will be okay, but we'll have to be careful about what we spend until I get a new job. Help me think of ways we can save."
    • Visit with a credit counseling agency to insure that you are weighing all your options. Your local United Way can help you find a reputable agency.

The National Education Association (NEA) Member Benefits and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) have teamed up to provide financial literacy and debt management education to NEA members and their families

A special web page provides information about the financial counseling and education services offered through NFCC member agencies located nationwide. NFCC member agencies offer comprehensive financial and debt management services including:

    • One-on-one financial counseling
    • Financial education classes
    • Bankruptcy counseling and education
    • Housing counseling
    • Reverse mortgage counseling

Certified financial counselors are available to help NEA members and their families develop customized solutions to their financial problems, either in person or by telephone. Many NFCC member agencies also offer Web-based support. Services are provided free or at very affordable rates. Don't continue to struggle with your financial problems. NSEA members: visit www.debtadvice.org/nea for more information, or call toll-free to find an NFCC member agency near you: 1-866-479-NEA2 (6322).


Resources for NSEA Members

NSEA members - don't forget to utilize your membership benefits:

    • Your NSEA Organizational Specialist: The first person you should call when your job is in jeopardy is your Organizational Specialist. Among the myriad of sources, resources and expertise directors can provide you are employee assistance, counseling and credit programs plus workshops and advice on applying for unemployment, resume writing, the job search, interview skills, health insurance and more.
    • Continuation of NSEA Membership: You may maintain your legal protection, along with all other rights, resources and benefits, with the maintenance of your active membership in the NSEA. You can't buy this kind of protection anywhere else for so little money. It can mean the difference between future employment in your current location and relocation to find other employment. NSEA members: Your current membership is valid through August 2010. When you get another job, services, rights and benefits start again when you renew your NSEA membership. If you have questions or need additional information, contact your local association or Organizational Specialist.
    • NEA Member Benefits - NEA provides no- or low-interest loans, financial services, discounted insurance programs and other special services to help you achieve your financial goals and help you make smart decisions.