- Update: Unemployment benefits are extended through the end of November 2010
- Emergency unemployment benefits have stopped for many US workers and more are losing the benefits each week
- As of early July, there's been no extension of these benefits, but lawmakers are working on it
- You may have some options if you still can't find a job and you've lost or you're about to lose your unemployment compensation benefits
On July 22 President Obama signed a new law that restores federal unemployment benefits to 2.5 million Americans. The law awards payments retroactively to people who ran out of benefits in late May and early June.
The jobless benefits will continue through the end of November 2010. Contact the unemployment office in your state to find out about the status of claims in your location.
In response to the 2008-2009 recession, federal lawmakers made emergency jobless benefits available to millions of Americans who lost their jobs. A big benefit was the extension of state-paid unemployment compensation benefits.
That extra aid stopped in May 2010, and since then millions of workers lost their benefits. Millions more lose their benefits each week. It's estimated that over 3 million workers will lose those benefits by the end of July 2010.
Federal lawmakers are working on extending these benefits again. In early July 2010, the US House of Representatives passed a bill that will extend benefits through November 2010 and give back-pay to workers who lost benefits starting in June. The US Senate, however, is still working on the problem.
The question is, what can you do if you still can't find a job and your unemployment benefits have run out or will run out soon?
The first thing to do is contact your state's unemployment insurance agency and verify your current eligibility status. Make sure the agency has the right dates for when you lost your job and when you began receiving state benefits and the federal extended benefits.
Next, explore these options, depending on your needs:
- Contact your state's health or social services office. Depending on your income and family size, you may qualify for various forms of public assistance, such as food stamps and financial assistance for rent or mortgage payments
- Check Feeding America for a food bank in your area where you can get food at no or little cost
- Contact your state's office for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for help paying your home energy bills, particularly gas and electric. Also, call your other utilities, like telephone and water services, and ask if they have assistance programs
- Look to non-profit charities. For instance, Modest Needs may give you money or a "grant" to pay expenses like rent and medical bills. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul offers emergency assistance, and, like Goodwill, offer thrift shops where you can get clothing and household items at very low costs
- The Partnership For Prescription Assistance can help you get free or low-cost prescription medicines for you and your family
Make one call! 2-1-1 is a service from the United Way. By dialing 2-1-1 from any phone across the US, you can get information about all sorts of assistance available in your community, including rent and utility assistance; health insurance programs; job training; education programs, and much more.
Also, take some time to contact your Representatives and Senators and tell them your opinion about extending unemployment compensation benefits.
It's a tough time for many US workers, and until there's a full economic recovery, the hard times may continue. Take advantage of the help and opportunities out there right now so you and your family can weather the storm.
Questions for Your Attorney
- If I take a temporary job and get laid off, does my unemployment compensation start over again?
- Are any unemployment compensation benefits taxable?
- I never applied for unemployment compensation benefits. Can I apply now?