Stimulus Unemployment Benefits Update: VA, FL, ME, OH, IN…

Updates on how states’ legislators are moving on the UE benefits money in the stimulus:

OH: (TimesBulletin)

…Ohio is one of 13 states plus the District of Columbia that is missing out on federal stimulus funding for extended unemployment benefits. State legislators would have to make a change in the law to make those who have reached the end of their already-extended unemployment benefits eligible for up to 20 more weeks of benefits.

A provision in the stimulus bill would cover the extension of benefits beyond the first phase of 26 weeks and the second phase of 33 weeks, but that provision kicks in only for states that average more than 6.5 percent unemployment in a three-month period. Those states would receive funding for 13 weeks of benefits, and if the rate clears 8.0 percent for a three-month period, another 7 weeks are available.

…, 16 states and Puerto Rico already qualify for the extended benefits program under one of the program’s provisions: Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Alaska, Connecticut, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Washington qualify for 13 weeks of benefits.

Oregon and Rhode Island already qualify for 20 weeks of extended benefits. As a result, about 405,000 workers in those states will qualify for extended benefits when their EUC benefits expire between now and June.

States that would have to change law to allow workers to receive the extended benefits besides Ohio are: Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, and Tennessee.

VA (WaPo):

…a group of Republican lawmakers is urging the state to reject $125 million in federal money, saying it would mean higher taxes for businesses once the stimulus money is exhausted.

For the state to receive its full allotment, however, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and the General Assembly must change state law, which provides some of the lowest unemployment benefits in the country. Kaine has not taken a position on the issue, but several Democratic lawmakers said they are gearing up to support the changes, which they view as essential for helping laid-off workers.

Virginia, which recorded a 6.4 percent unemployment rate in January, is already eligible for $62.5 million in federal job benefits money, about one-third of its total allotment. To be eligible for the other two-thirds, the state would have to provide coverage to at least two of four groups of unemployed people: those only available to work part time; workers who left their jobs for compelling family reasons such as domestic violence, a spouse moving to take another job or caring for a sick child; workers with dependent children; and workers who need benefits extended through certain kinds of job retraining.

House Republican leaders and officials with the Virginia Chamber of Commerce said that such an expansion would upend the letter and spirit of the state’s unemployment insurance system. …”Our jobless benefits system is an insurance program, not an entitlement,” said Del. Samuel A. Nixon (R-Chesterfield), chairman of the House Republican Caucus. “This isn’t free money. This is money that we’ll have to pay for by way of higher taxes down the line.”

…t the political situation is somewhat complicated in Virginia, with Kaine, who also serves as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, possibly squaring off with the Republican-led House of Delegates, a fiscally conservative body that has long opposed fundamental changes to laws that extend such benefits.

To draw down the federal money, Kaine would have to amend a bill that he is reviewing, or insert changes into the state budget. Lawmakers would then have to vote on those changes when they return to Richmond for their regularly scheduled one-day session April 8.

FL (TampaBay.com)

Florida is at risk of forfeiting more than $1 billion in federal stimulus funds unless it makes a controversial change in state law that widens the pool of people receiving extended unemployment benefits. The problem is that the federal offer for aid comes at a price that many in the Legislature are balking at.

If the state makes the statutory change, it means about 250,000 Floridians could become eligible for extended benefits, with the federal government picking up most of the estimated $776 million cost through December 2009. But since state agencies and local governments account for about 6 percent of benefit costs, they would be on the hook to pay about $71 million between now and June 30, 2010. Moreover, the federal stimulus only runs through the end of the year.

Senate Republicans, led by Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, don’t want to leave the federal money on the table, given Florida’s rising unemployment picture. The state’s unemployment rate stood at 8.1 percent for January and is expected to be higher when February numbers are released on Friday.

However, top House Republicans are urging their membership to reject the federal funding. On Monday, the leadership sent an e-mail to members telling them how to respond to constituents upset that the state would turn down more than $1 billion in aid. The e-mail said the “strings” attached to the federal funds would be a hardship for Florida companies that pay into the state’s unemployment insurance fund.

“These higher costs on businesses that will directly pay the increased taxes, will force companies to layoff workers, potentially causing more Floridians to lose their jobs,” the e-mail read. “As you can see, utilizing the federal money for unemployment compensation is not a silver bullet.”

Maine (WMTW):

Mainers will not be eligible for stimulus unemployment benefits unless lawmakers take action.

The economic stimulus package lets states with high unemployment rates give up to 20 weeks of extended federal benefits to people who are all out of options.Early estimates from the state Department of Labor indicate Mainers could be missing out on up to $50 million in federal assistance, News 8’s Danielle Strauss reported.State Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman said the only problem is a difference in language, and the department is already looking for ways to change it.”It’s the number that is being used to trigger that benefit. We have an insured unemployment rate that we used, and in the Recovery Act, they look at a total unemployment rate. So, it is just a different calculation,” she said.

“Normally, someone is eligible for about 26 weeks worth of benefits. Because of the various extended benefit programs that our out there now, someone currently is eligible for up to 59 weeks of unemployment. What this does would extend those benefits either and additional 13 weeks or 20 weeks depending on how high our unemployment rate goes,” Fortman said.Fortman said Gov. John Baldacci already asked the department to draft legislation.

Indiana (Inside Indiana Business):

Indiana Senators today voted 30 to 19 to move a plan to fix the state’s bankrupt jobless fund. The Senate passed bill says “no” to massive expansions required for using $148 million in federal stimulus monies, but “yes” to maintaining state-funded benefits for unemployed Hoosiers seeking re-training…

…Indiana’s unemployment insurance trust, funded by employer-paid premiums, is currently insolvent. In 2008, it paid out $1 billion in benefits while taking in $579 million in revenues. Projections for 2009 show benefits will top $1.3 billion, with revenues of about $550 million.

Thirty states have UI funds already insolvent or at the risk of insolvency, according to the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. At least 14 states, including Indiana, have this year used federal loans totaling $5 billion in order to continue providing unemployment benefits.

“No” To Federal Stimulus Liberalization

State senators agreed with Hershman and rejected long-term obligations and financial burdens left after federal stimulus monies would be exhausted. Hershman warned federal funds often come with strings attached, and in this case, would permanently liberalize what are already seen as generous UI benefits when compared to other states. Based on average income, Indiana ranked third in 2008 for replacing lost wages with state unemployment benefits.

Hershman cautioned against the use of temporary stimulus money, because after two years, the state would again face premium hikes or benefit cuts. Federal guidelines for receiving the money would swell the number of those eligible for government benefits by 40 percent. Seven states have already rejected the stimulus monies for their unemployment funds. Indiana is on a growing list of states leaning against accepting the funds for this purpose.

Hershman noted that state leaders nationwide are opposed to expanding benefits to teen-agers who leave after-school jobs, parents whose children may contract Chicken Pox or another common illness, and those displaced when a spouse applies for and accepts a more lucrative job elsewhere.

“Yes” To Retraining, Real Job Searches

Kenley said the plan would maintain state funded jobless benefits for 26 weeks, if unemployed Hoosiers participate in state-approved job training and re-training. Otherwise benefits would be reduced over time.

Unemployment benefit recipients would also be required to actually “apply” for jobs each week under Hershman’s proposed bill, not to simply “look” for employment as state law now stipulates, Kenley said.

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March 25, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Economy, Politics, Taxes, Unemployment Statistics.

28 Comments

  1. Ruth Pfister replied:

    I live in Indiana but am drawing my unemployment from Kentucky. I don’t qualify for either state’s programs for training for new jobs. I have four more weeks of unemployment insurance and then I’m done. I’ve been applying for work for over a year now, and I don’t even get a rejection letter.

  2. ginaswo replied:

    man that is awful!! in AZ the max weekly benefit is 240, lol Who can live on that! But it is more than zero !
    they seem to be making many more programs for those NOT looking for work, but not getting JOBS for the rest of us….
    sadly the increased business taxes for the NEW UE bennies they are adding for p/t and such, will IMO result in slower recovery of jobs in 2010…
    hang on, if we can all get through to the midterm elections I am hoping we can get some changes BACK to reasonable spending and STOP scaring the crap out of business…

  3. Alfreda replied:

    I have been looking for work for almost 8 months and I have submitted applications and reume’s all over the state of Virginia ( areas which are close to me) with no job offers in site. Interviews yes, a job NO. This has become extremely depressing per I have a son to finish raising as well as rent, utilities, car note, groceries, ect…. What are we suppose to do??? I as well as lots of others have always worked and they are not even releasing the stimulus in Virginia!!! It’s amazing how our futures are in peoples hands who already have Careers and MONEY!!!!

  4. Beverly Spicer replied:

    Live in Ohio–husband has been out of work now since March of ’08. Been everywhere and anywhere looking for another job—nothing!!!!!! Now this stimulas comes into effect for extended benefits and we find out Ohio is one of the states who has this law that has to be amended. That’s never going to happen. I have called all of our state and federal reps. and no-one seems to want to act on it or they say they are working on it. Well all I can say when they all want re-elected is that “I’ll work on it!!!Guess the little people aren’t good enough to get a bail-out!!!!

  5. ginaswo replied:

    more help for OH on the way!!!
    see here

    Unemployed Ohioans who exhaust their jobless benefits will be eligible for 20 more weeks of assistance.

    Tucked into the monstrous transportation budget approved by state lawmakers yesterday was a provision changing Ohio unemployment law, a move necessary to qualify for the additional compensation.

    Up to 20 more weeks of benefits will be available to Ohioans who have exhausted their unemployment compensation after Feb. 22, said Dennis Evans, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, which oversees the state’s unemployment compensation program.

    So far, about 1,600 claimants have exhausted benefits since that date, he said.

    The additional extended benefits will start being distributed in about six weeks since it will take that long for state regulators to make the necessary updates to their computer system, Evans said.

    The benefits will be paid retroactively to Feb. 22.

    In addition to the extended benefits, unemployed Ohioans soon will receive an additional $25 a week in compensation. Benefits now average about $300 a week.

    Evans projected that jobless workers will start receiving the higher compensation in May, with payments retroactive to Feb. 17. Like the 20-week benefit extension, the federal government is paying the entire $25 increase.

    The National Employment Law Project estimated that 35,000 Ohioans could be eligible to continue receiving benefits in the first half of 2009.

    In a recent report, the organization projected that more than a half-million unemployed workers in Ohio and 12 other states plus the District of Columbia were missing out on the additional assistance because of how their state laws were written.

    At issue are state laws that trigger when extended benefits are paid.

    Ohio uses a ratio of the number of people receiving unemployment benefits to the number of employed workers. Under the stimulus package, federal regulators required states to use only their unemployment rate, typically a lower threshold.

    To speed passage of the change in state law, Gov. Ted Strickland had urged lawmakers last week to include the provision in transportation bill — which they did.

  6. ginaswo replied:

    GOV Strickland came through!! he put the extension in the transportation bill to get the votes!!!!

  7. hopelessly_unemployed replied:

    Ga UPDATE- HB581 was ammended and passed Senate. The extended benefits will be provided.However, the Ga DoL has until May 25th (They did ask for a date of July 1 originally but NELP advocates helped on getting that changed)to implement the necessary infrastructure to send the funds out to the 41K who will be exhausting their second tier before the implementation date.
    Not sure what they need to implement as we are already in their system if we are receiving benefits. I think its a numbers game.
    I run out 4/15 and my children and myself will be homelesss by 5/1.

  8. ginaswo replied:

    Thank you so much for the update, hopefully the extended second tier payments will be retro lump sums issued promptly since everyone is in the system..

  9. Bill replied:

    Why no news in NY? No Extended benefits available and no pending laws to change this? Over 100,000 people would benefit.

  10. ryan replied:

    when will we get the 25 dollar increase in benefits.

  11. ginaswo replied:

    It varies by state, it will be retroactive..where are you located?

  12. Seemoi replied:

    My unemployment benefits will expire on April 2009. To my acknowledge legislator in florida if you lived in Florida must approve the monies that they received from the Obama stimulus package. We as citizens will be hurt if legislator don’t approve this extension. This is great depression everyone are facing in this tough economy. The legislator are saying if’s and but because if they approve the extension it will hurt the businessmen. Bad luck for those business they are the ones that laid people and now for a little funds it is hard for them to give us. Let’s keep our fingers cross.

  13. Julie Johnson replied:

    Can anyone please tell me what the extended benefits currently are in Florida and if there is a deadline? I understand the American Recovery Act funds have not been approved by Florida at this point.

    If the American Recovery Act is somehow approved how many weeks would be available then? I understand the cut to apply is Dec. 2009 and will only pay 5 months into the next year. I’m not sure if more weeks will become available. I would like to know the total weeks a person can get if the Act is approved.

    I appreciate your help. It is very hard to get clear information.

    Thank you,
    Julie Johnson

  14. ginaswo replied:

    Hello! The extensions are extremely confusing! each state that hits ovr 6.5% Unemployment over a 3 monh period gets a 13 week extension from the Feds, but state laws need to be modified in some cases to have that happen automatically and the state legislatures MUST request that funding, not the Governors adding to confusion….

    Aside from the state UE office which is a busy signal that never ends many times, the NELP has the most up to date info:
    http://www.nelp.org/
    http://www.nelp.org/site/issues/category/unemployment_insurance/

    http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2009/04/04/ap6256067.htm

    Unemployment has risen so high that in some states a third leg of benefits is kicking in – a new lifeline for many who would otherwise run out. Under federal law, states found to have particularly high unemployment under complex formulas must provide 13 to 20 more weeks of benefits.

    It has already taken effect in 18 states, twice as many as activated it in either of the last two recessions.

    The National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group for low-wage workers, wants more states to change their laws to make it easier for the extended benefits to kick in.

    The federal stimulus package provides full federal funding for the extension, which otherwise would be split between the states and federal government. California’s Legislature took such a step last week, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to sign the legislation.
    States typically provide 26 weeks of unemployment benefits, an average of about $350 a week. Last year, Congress tacked on 20 extra weeks of benefits, and later it added 13 additional weeks for people in states hardest-hit by unemployment.
    …Those who know that their unemployment aid is about to run out are counting the days, taking on odd jobs, moving in with relatives and fretting about the future.

    “My biggest fear is we’ll lose the house,” said Hernan Alvarez, 54, an Orlando, Florida, construction worker who lost his job in July and whose benefits will end in four weeks. “The only thing I can do is keep looking for work and hope tomorrow will be better than today.”

  15. ginaswo replied:

    another excellent linky
    http://www.nelp.org/page/-/UI/extended.benefits.feb.09.pdf?nocdn=1

    6. Where can workers find out whether their state qualifies for EB under the different “trigger”
    formulas in order to collect EB after running out of EUC benefits?
    On a weekly basis, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) provides on update of which states have reached
    the required unemployment level to trigger on to EB. The most recent notice is summarized in Table 1, and
    the weekly DOL notice can be found at http://ows.doleta.gov/unemploy/claims_arch.asp by selecting
    “Extended Benefits Trigger Notice.”

  16. Julie Johnson replied:

    Florida

    How many weeks of unemployment benefits TOTAL are available in Florida now without any legislation that needs to be passed?

  17. ginaswo replied:

    from a piece today, I would call FL UE just in case….:
    http://www.wwj.com/Stimulus—–What-You-Need-To-Know/4180447

    Misconception #7: The number of weeks you can receive emergency unemployment benefits has been extended.

    The stimulus does not provide additional weeks of benefits for people who use their 33 weeks of emergency unemployment-compensation benefits; it just expands the dates that the program will be available.

    A federal law passed last year provides an extra 20 weeks of emergency unemployment compensation to workers who exhausted their regular unemployment benefits, plus an additional 13 weeks of extended benefits for residents of states with high unemployment rates (contact your state unemployment-benefits office for details about your state’s rules).

    The emergency unemployment-compensation program was scheduled to expire on August 27, 2009, and the last day to apply for benefits was originally set to be March 31, 2009. As a result of the stimulus law, unemployed people who exhaust their regular state benefits now have until December 31, 2009, to apply for extended benefits and can receive compensation until May 31, 2010.
    Copyrighted, Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc.

  18. ginaswo replied:

    http://www.floridajobs.org/Unemployment/index.html

    14. My claim is exhausted. Am I eligible for an extension?

    If you exhaust all of your benefits prior to the end of your “benefit year”, an extended benefit claim will be established automatically and a determination letter sent to you. If you do not receive an Extended Benefit determination letter within 7 days after you claimed your last weeks of unemployment, contact us at 1-800-204-2418, option 0, for assistance. On your extended benefit claim you will be paid your current weekly benefit amount and a maximum payable amount of ½ of the original Maximum Available Credits on your current claim.

    13. The system tells me that I do not have any weeks for which I need to certify because my claim is exhausted. I do not think that is correct. How do I obtain more information?
    Review the Wage Transcript and Determination that you received concerning your benefits. On this determination you were advised of your weekly benefit amount and how much you had in “available credits.” The “available credits” is the total amount in benefits you may be eligible to receive. If you divide the “available credits” by the weekly benefit amount, the answer is the number of weeks you may be paid. If you have been paid this number of weeks, you have exhausted all your benefits for your benefit year.

    If you exhaust all of your benefits prior to the end of your “benefit year”, an extended benefit claim will be established automatically and a determination letter sent to you. If you do not receive an Extended Benefit determination letter within 7 days after you claimed your last weeks of unemployment, contact us at 1-800-204-2418, option 0, for assistance. On your extended benefit claim you will be paid your current weekly benefit amount and a maximum payable amount of ½ of the original Maximum Available Credits on your current claim.

    If you think the system is not correct concerning weeks available to claim, call the Claims Assistance Center toll free at 1-800-204-2418. Choose the language and then option 0 and a customer service representative will assist you with your questions.

  19. Bren in Ky replied:

    Kentucky information:
    The article below came out today 4/15 addressing. Be sure to read page two. It gives more information about the numbers losing their benefits this wk and will be about $21,000 along with thousands every wk unless the governor changes the law or the weekly trigger rate gets to 5%. Last wk the rate was 4.91%.

    http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20090415/NEWS0101/904150436

  20. jae will replied:

    States that are denying the federal money are doing so under the pretense that they are concerned about the future of their states and the “strings” that are attached to the money but if that were the case, so I guess this means that only Republicans are concerned for the future of their states since they are the only jackzzes that are spewing this lie. This rejection is a political motivated move only and an effort to make the current administration look bad. What they don’t realize is that if they don’t accept this money, then the burden will be put totally on the states because people will start applying for food stamps, welfare, and homelessness will increase. These are state problems. But on a more humane level, how can you deny ANYONE the basics of life….food and shelter….even if it is just for another 13 to 20 weeks.

  21. ginaswo replied:

    well if the businesses all move out of state as a result of new UE taxes, like they did in CA, that causes MORE unemployment, thus it is a self defeating act to extend it beyond 1 yr and a half, which most states get now….as for Welfare, Big Dawg had reformed it and millions did quite well, but TOTUS has reversed that under Stimulus so you are correct that some states will no doubt go bankrupt off welfare payments now, that never end, under Big Dawg 5 yrs was max, who needs welfare for more than 5 years? seriously? there is disability for those disabled, there is vocational rehabilitation, there is social security for widows orphans and the elderly, more than that is a problem…
    if you think this is just mean GOP, see EU who are socialists and are denying further coverage or stimulus for their countries:
    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601102&sid=aOvWfgfdbXV8&refer=uk May 5 (Bloomberg) — European finance ministers said they have no plans to bolster their fiscal stimulus packages even as they warned that rising unemployment risked triggering a “social crisis.”

    “We’re heading toward a social crisis; there will be an unemployment crisis,” Luxembourg Finance Minister Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters in Brussels late yesterday after leading talks of counterparts from the 16-nation euro region. “Even so, we do not believe euro-zone states should be adding to the economic programs they have decided upon.”

    The ministers gathered hours after the European Commission, the European Union’s executive body, warned that the euro area will suffer its deepest recession since World War II this year and predicted the unemployment rate will reach the highest on record in 2010.

    Companies across the continent including Germany’s BASF SE are cutting production and firing workers to survive the slump. Limiting the scope for governments to help are rising budget deficits following previous tax cuts and spending increases and the suspicion that more aid would fail so long as banks are plagued by toxic assets.

  22. donald replied:

    i am suppose to receive 106.00 a week in unemployment benefits. so far i’ve received 2 checks 95.00 a piece and i havent seen any $25.00 a week stimulus money from the federal government for unemployment. please tell me why i’m not receiving any addition to my $106.00 per week. Also if i’m being taxed on my $106.00 a week which i believe, Please let me know because obviously $106.00 per week does not equal $95.00 a week. thank you very much and have a wonderful day.

  23. donald replied:

    my benefits is being received in the state of ohio which should be considered in responding to my first email. thank you.

  24. ginaswo replied:

    I would check and see about the $25 per week stimulus bump for UE ..are they paying that separately in your state?
    in AZ the MAX bennies are 240 a week, plus the stim of 25, for a whopping 265 a week…God Bless everybody, its a bumpy ride with no growth ahead or the economy….

  25. Diva Franco replied:

    Where can I apply for an extended unemployment benefits in VA, online? I got 14 weeks of unemploymet would you please help me? and It had been expired.

  26. princess replied:

    Florida needs to pass this and amend the law in place-we on unemployment are not all just sitting around doing nothing. families need assistance. so businesses can pay the taxes on the unemployment or more ppl will apply for welfare assistance which guess what businesses and anyone paying taxes including ppl on unemployment will pay for that too…y not help ppl so they dont have to go on public assistance and start auditing ppl on unemployment to show they are trying to find jobs-not all of us unemployed just sit back and wait for a check-if u have ever collected unemployment u know it aint enough to really meet necessary expenses each month-even worse if u have a family…the state needs to think this thru-unemployed ppl put more in to the economy then those working saving their money…

  27. ginaswo replied:

    House passed the bill last night, FL will get another 13 weeks if the Senate passes it :0) See here

    http://moderateinthemiddle.wordpress.com/2009/09/21/unemployment-update-house-to-consider-mcdermott-ue-extension-bill-this-week/

  28. vic replied:

    i have been on Pennsylvania unemployment since Feb. 2009….no jobs here either, and more companies laying off every day….they just keep it mostly quiet, and out of the media. Anyway, been getting the $25 weekly federal stimulus to my regular benefit which comes too me in biweekly payments of $50 each. I noticed my last payment was only $44!! I called my local EI service office and they said they had reduced my $25 payment by 2.3% because my account was low. I received no notice they would be doing this and haven’t heard or read of such a thing. Anyone aware? Legal? How can it be legal for Pennsylvania State unemployment office to “dip” into stimulus payments granted to me by the federal government????

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