President Bush approved extended unemployment benefits today, by signing the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2008.
Update: President Obama further extended unemployment benefits through December 31, 2009, when he signed the Stimulus Act. As a result, the August 27, 2009 date below is no longer valid. Additionally, President Obama has again extended unemployment benefits.
Claims for unemployment benefits hit a 16-year high last week, while the number of unemployed workers was still over 10 million from October and climbing. Congress responded by quickly passing the new Act yesterday and rushing it to the President for his signature.
The new Act authorizes Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) for a second time during the rapidly declining economy. In this round, all states may further extend the first round of extended unemployment benefits by 7 weeks for a total of 20 weeks, while states with high unemployment rates may extend benefits for an additional 13 weeks.
Extended unemployment benefits will be available until August 27, 2009. To be eligible for extended unemployment benefits, unemployed workers must have first become eligible for and then exhausted their standard state unemployment benefits. (Other requirements apply.) The weekly compensation amount from extended benefits is the same as that from standard benefits, which varies by state.
If you’re close to exhausting 26 weeks of standard unemployment benefits or 13 weeks of the first round of extended unemployment benefits, then the state unemployment office must notify you that you might be eligible for the first or second round of Emergency Unemployment Compensation. Typically, unemployed workers must file official claims for extended unemployment benefits to determine their final eligibility.
To file a claim, follow the instructions provided by the state unemployment office. If you don’t receive instructions, then contact the nearest unemployment office or comprehensive One-Stop Career Center for information about filing your claim. Most state unemployment office Web sites have facilities for securely filing claims over the Internet.
This round of extended unemployment benefits might not yet be available in your work state, as it typically takes a few days to get the ball rolling. To inquire about availability, contact the nearest unemployment office or One-Stop Career Center.
Did you know? If you qualify in a state that participates in the Self-Employment Assistance program, then you may attempt self-employment while collecting unemployment insurance benefits instead of looking for a new job.