U.S. Congress Renews Federal Extensions to Unemployment Benefits
On July 22, 2010, the U.S. Congress passed legislation that will allow millions of Americans to continue receiving unemployment benefits. On a local level, this means that the approximately 50,000 Missourians who exhausted benefits in June, could qualify for an extension under the new guidelines that have been established.
“This is great news for thousands of Missouri families who depend on these funds to help make ends meet,” said Labor Department Director Larry Rebman. “With the start of school right around the corner, this will provide unemployed parents assistance with school supplies and clothes as well as basic needs such as food, shelter, or gas for the family car.”
In response to the federal extension, the Missouri Labor Department Division of Employment Security began preparing to administer the additional unemployment benefit extension weeks before the bill was passed, and will be notifying potentially eligible Missourians in the coming weeks.
The bill passed by Congress, H.R. 4213, extends the deadline to file for the Emergency Unemployment Compensation 2008 (EUC08) and Extended Benefits (EB) programs through November 30, 2010, and retroactively pays out claims to Missourians whose benefits expired in May. Approximately 50,000 unemployed Missourians have exhausted benefits since June 2, when previously enacted federal extensions expired. Many of those Missourians may be potentially eligible to resume receiving benefits, including the benefits they did not receive after the expiration of the previous extensions. More than 133,000 Missourians currently are receiving unemployment benefits. The average weekly benefit amount (WBA) unemployed Missourians receive is $255. The maximum WBA is $320.
The Department has been notifying potentially eligible claimants with instructions on how to apply for the extended EUC08 and EB programs.
“We are going to act as quickly as we can to get this federal money to those deemed eligible,” said Department Director Larry Rebman. “But we must review each case to ensure that the claimant is entitled to benefits before releasing any money.”
Unemployed workers are not automatically entitled to unemployment benefits. They must have earned enough money to qualify and, most importantly, they must have been separated from work through no fault of their own. People receiving unemployment benefits also are generally required to perform weekly work searches and report every four weeks to a Missouri Career Center to access resources for job-seekers.
“Most Missourians would rather receive a paycheck than an unemployment check,” said Rebman. “While we do our work to make sure this money only goes to those who are eligible, we also make sure that Missourians have the tools they need to get back to work and off unemployment.”
In order for claimants to keep their claim active, they should continue to file their weekly certifications (claims). Missourians are encouraged visit the Department’s webpage www.labor.mo.gov/DES/Claims/public_programs.asp featuring free public programs. Individuals can learn about how to get help with buying food, health insurance, mortgage and rental assistance, or meet other family needs. For more information about federally funded unemployment benefit deadlines, please visit www.moclaim.mo.gov.