Federal Unemployment Benefits Extension
During early 2009 many people had the same question: “will Congress extend unemployment benefits?” Their answer eventually came. A federal unemployment benefits extension was signed into law by President Obama in 2009 to provide additional unemployment benefits to individuals who have endured a prolong struggle to find new employment after losing their former jobs through no fault of their own. The unemployment benefit extensions available through the 2009 laws allows for individuals to receive benefits for up to a total of 99 weeks, or almost two full years. Individuals who are schedule to receive the full 99 weeks of benefits have been dubbed in the media as the “99ers”. The extension laws were extended until December 31, 2011, when Congress currently plans to allow them to lapse. Then, further legislative moves by Congress during the summer of 2011 changed the unemployment benefits extension landscape again. Here are the essential facts in the various changes to these laws for those currently receiving unemployment insurance (“UI”) compensation.
Who Is In The Group of “99ers”?
The 99ers are made up of people who have already maxed out their federal unemployment benefits extension and are now unable to receive additional federal unemployment benefits. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that almost 1.4 million Americans made up the group of 99ers in June of 2010. That number has increased over six times since June of 2007, when the number was estimated to be approximately 221,000.
Who Can Receive A Federal Unemployment Benefits Extension?
Anyone who is partially or totally unemployed and has already exhausted all available unemployment compensation benefits can apply for extended benefit payments. You must also still comply with all applicable laws of the particular state where you reside in, including meeting minimum income requirements during your “Base Period”, which is the first four out of the last five calendar quarters before the current quarter you submitted your UI claims.
Will Your Payments Change Under the Federal Extended Benefits Program?
No, the weekly payment amount you were previously receiving before going onto the extended benefits program will continue to be paid to you. Additionally, you do not need to submit any type of additional paperwork or application to enroll in the extended benefits program. The department of labor for the state you live in will ensure that you begin to receive your federal unemployment benefits extension if your circumstances qualify you for it.
What Legislative Changes Have There Been Since 2009?
There have been several legislative changes to federal unemployment benefits extensions since 2009. The most important change came in August of 2011, when, as a part of the great debt ceiling debate that embroiled the country, Congress agreed to eliminate federally funded benefit extensions so that the 2009 legislation allowing up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits will expire at the end of 2011. Additionally, this same August 2011 legislation now restricts individuals who have become unemployed on or after August 1, 2011 from being eligible for extended federal unemployment benefits.
The legislative landscape is always changing when it comes to unemployment benefits. Stay tuned for more updates on this dynamic situation!
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