The past year has been a bad one for the American worker. Because of the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing recession – millions of Americans have lost their jobs. The current national unemployment rate is 9.7% as of Sept 4. While many workers will find new jobs within the time period of existing employment benefits – many more will run out of benefits before finding a new job.
On September 22, the House passed legislation called Bill H3548 which will allow any states with a total unemployment rate (TUR) of 8.5% or higher to be eligible for federal funding which will allow 13 more weeks of extended unemployment benefits for those people who have exhausted all the current benefits.
This move was made as part of the ongoing 2009 stimulus package which is designed to help the economy recover as quickly as possible and for long term unemployed people to be able to keep paying the bills while they look for work.
Which states are eligible for these benefits?
The eligible states are:
ALABAMA, ARIZONA, CALIFORNIA, FLORIDA, GEORGIA, IDAHO, ILLINOIS, INDIANA, KENTUCKY, MAINE, MASSACHUSETTS, MICHIGAN, MISSISSIPPI, MISSOURI, NEVADA, NEW JERSEY, NORTH CAROLINA, NEW YORK, OHIO, OREGON, PENNSYLVANIA, RHODE ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA, TENNESSEE, WASHINGTON, AND WEST VIRGINIA. PLUS THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND PUERTO RICO.
When can I get these extra benefits?
At the moment this bill has not become law (as of Sept 24). The senate still has to approve the bill and it is unclear how long it will take. It is anticipated that the bill will pass Senate but it might take a while.
Keep in mind that the previous extension (Extended Benefits) required state law changes since EB is a joint federal and state program. EB required a change in federal law and then required state laws to be amended. The legislation that recently passed the House (H3548) is an extension of Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC). This does not require state law changes so it won’t require the state legislature to change state law. This means that it should take less time to get this extension than the previous one.
How much unemployment benefits are available now?
Most states have a basic amount of 26 weeks (6 months) of employment benefits plus any extra weeks available because of various unemployment rate triggers. These are funded by the states and/or the federal government.