Illinois Unemployment Benefits Extension – Bill H3548 Gives 20 More Weeks

by Mike Holman

Long term unemployment is not something that anyone should have to deal with.  Unfortunately in today’s economy there are more and more unemployed people everyday.  The economic slowdown has been going on for a couple of years with mounting job losses to show for it.  One of the tragic byproducts of an increasing unemployment rate is the large number of people who have been unemployed long enough to run out of the available benefits.

In Illinois the damage to the economy has been significant over the last year or two and this is seen by the unemployment rate which currently sits at 11.0% in October which is up a full half percentage point from 10.5% in September.  The increasing unemployment rate is an indicator that there are less and less jobs which makes it harder for people who were laid of quite a while ago.  The other problem is that long-term unemployed are competing against other workers who haven’t been off as long and might be more attractive to employers.

The good news is that there have been several unemployment extensions and the latest via Bill H3548 is probably not going to be the last.  These extensions are part of the stimulus package for 2009 funded by the federal government.  As many as 40,000 Illinois unemployed would have lost their benefits by the end of the year without Bill H3548.  This bill adds 14 weeks for all states and 20 weeks for states with an unemployment rate higher than 8.5%.

Currently in Illinois the following benefits are offered:

  • EUC Tier 1 – 20 weeks  (7 weeks plus 13 weeks)
  • EUC tier 2 – 14 weeks (used to be 13)
  • EB  – 20 weeks
  • EUC tier 3 (new with bill H3548) 13 weeks or 19 weeks (if > 8.5%)

This adds up to a total of 99 weeks.

For information on how to extend your benefits then please visite your state unemployment website or office.  To be eligible you need to exhaust your benefits by the end of the year (2009).  Because the latest bill has increased tier 2 by 1 week this could affect your eligibility for the extension.  According to NELP (National Employment Law Project) there would have been around 1 million Americans who run out of benefits in January of 2010 and 3 million by March 2010.  Current benefits are in Illinois are a maximum of $559 per week for someone who is married with kids.  Someone single would be eligible for a maximum of $410 per week.

Rep. Debbie Halvorson (IL-11) who voted to pass bill H3548 otherwise known as the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act had this to say:

”All across our district our friends and neighbors are in danger of losing their unemployment benefits, and our economy is struggling to recover, this bill is a big step in turning that around,” said Halvorson. “By extending these benefits we are helping our communities today so they can be stronger and more prosperous tomorrow.”

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