Florida Unemployment Benefits Extension – 20 More Weeks

by Mike Holman

Update – Feb 7, 2011 – Legislation to add extra weeks for 99ers

Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee (Calif.) and Bobby Scott (Va.) are reintroducing legislation this week to provide additional weeks of unemployment insurance benefits for “99ers,”

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In 2009, the 2009 stimulus package was created by President Obama and provided extra funding for states to extend the length of unemployment benefits if necessary.  Most states have a fixed number of weeks available for benefits but can increase the number of weeks if necessary.  The Florida unemployment rate in April was 9.6%.

The state of Florida recently approved an extension of the unemployment benefits by 20 weeks as a result of Senate Bill 810 sponsored by Sen. Rudy Garcia, R-Miami and Rep. Dave Murzin, R-Pensacola.  This applies to unemployed persons who have already used up the previous maximum of 59 weeks of unemployment benefits.  The legislation allowing this EB extension was signed by Governor Charlie Crist and will provide more benefits for up to 250,000 unemployed Floridians.  The payments will be up to $300 per week.

The money to pay for these extended benefits will come from the stimulus package of 2009 – about $415 million in total.

The agency responsible for these benefits is called the Agency for Workforce Innovation – they expect to start sending out the extended benefit checks in July.  According to a spokesman from the agency Robby Cunningham – some people might be able to collect benefits retroactive to February of 2009.

“It’s actually retroactive to February 22nd of this year so some qualifying receiptence could receive initial payments up to 5,100 dollars.”

Please note that any retroactive payments will be from February 22, 2009 or when your last claim ran out – whichever is later.

How to apply for extended benefits

If you qualify for the extended 20 weeks then you still have to apply – go to www.floridajobs.com and click on the big red “Extended Benefits” square near the top of the right side of the screen.  The actual link which will open up the application form is here.  You can also fill in and mail the EB application to the address indicated on the EB notice/application you will be receiving in the mail.

How do I know if I’m eligible?

Here are a few guidelines you can use to determine eligibility:

  • You are totally or partially unemployed.
  • You exhaust all entitlement to regular and emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) benefits prior to February 22, 2009 but your benefit year ends after February 22, 2009.
  • You exhaust all entitlement to regular and emergency unemployment compensation benefits after February 22, 2009.
  • You are not eligible for unemployment compensation benefits in any state (including Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, The District of Columbia) or Canada.
  • You satisfy all requirements of the Florida UC Law that apply to regular UC and EB, such as being able and available for work, and have not been disqualified from receiving benefits based on your reason for separation.
  • You actively seek work for each EB week claimed and provide the work search record as instructed.
  • You do not refuse an offer of suitable work or fail to apply for suitable work.

 

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