Like most states, Kentucky has been hit hard by the financial meltdown of 2008 and subsequent economic slowdown and recession. Many jobs have been lost and for some unlucky people – it will be a long road back to employment. The national unemployment rate has been rising steadily over the last few years and has recently broken the 10% barrier and sites at 10.2%.
Kentucky, the “Bluegrass State” hasn’t been spared from the economic damage. The most recent unemployment rate in Kentucky was 11.2% in October which was up 0.3% from 10.9% in September. Among those unemployed are significant numbers of people who have been unemployed long enough to either exhaust their unemployment benefits or come close to exhausting them.
To counter the problem of long-term unemployed running out of benefits the federal government has funded several benefit extensions. These are mainly funded as part of the economic stimulus package for 2009.
Bill H3548 has been passed and put into law – this will allow all states an extra 13 weeks of employment benefits as well as another 6 weeks if the unemployment rate is higher than 8.5%. It also increases the Tier 2 EUC benefits from 13 weeks to 14 weeks. In total – this bill will add 20 weeks of unemployent benefits for long-term unemployed people in Kentucky.
Here is the current benefits available in Kentucky:
- 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 Kentucky are $440 per week.
Kentuckians and Hoosiers who have exhausted all 79 weeks of unemployment benefits or will do so by the end of the year are eligible for up to 20 more weeks.
The extended benefits pay 54 percent of the person’s original unemployment compensation for the first week, 50 percent for the next 13 weeks and 24 percent for the final six weeks.
Unless Congress acts, the federal extensions will phase out at the end of the year. Residents will continue receiving benefits for their current tier in 2010, but will not be able to move the next tier. There are four federal tiers, each lasting from six weeks to 20 weeks.
What to do – Kentucky
Those who may be eligible for the 20-week extension will receive letters from the state Office of Employment and Training with instructions on claiming the benefits. Residents will be able to file a claim in about two weeks, according to state officials, and claiming early will not result in receiving checks sooner.