Wednesday, December 16, 2009

UC Exhaustion

I received a wonderful Christmas card in the mail this week. Twas from the lovely people at the state Department of Labor & Industry informing me that my unemployment compensation will terminate at the end of the month. Now, maybe I'm stupid, but I was under the impression that I had at least 52 weeks of welfare before it was exhausted.

Not so.

The letter explaining the process in June passed through several different hands, and we all thought it continued for a year. So, maybe I'm not so stupid after all. Or maybe we were confused that the federal government extended emergency benefits for up to 33 weeks. Too bad that extension ends on Dec. 19, meaning I'm a couple weeks too late to be eligible. According to the state's Web site...

Claimants that have a new regular UC claim for benefits effective on or after June 21, 2009 that are eligible for 26 weeks or claimants with a 16 week claim effective on or after August 30, 2009, may not qualify for EUC benefits under the current phase out provisions.

I spoke to a congressional aide for U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, and he told me that there are three bills in committee to extend the benefits. The previous extension was passed under the stimulus bill, which Murphy opposed. The aide was very helpful, but he would not say whether Murphy would support another extension. Considering he is a Republican, I would say the chances are slim.

I find it hilarious that the good people at the O-R would have done me a favor by laying me off just a few days earlier. If they had, then there wouldn't be a problem. Nevertheless, it appears those of us who lost our jobs on June 24 will be without a steady paycheck in two weeks. Or am I missing something in this convoluted and tangled bureaucratic web?


  1. Fellow BLB columnist Amanda Gillooly told me she spoke to a UC worker on the phone, and he said we will be able to apply for Extended Benefits. Why the UC woman in Altoona with whom I spoke didn't tell me that is beyond me. This program was triggered when the state's unemployment rose to a certain level and remained above there for consecutive months

    The hurdle with this program is that you have to prove that you have applied for two jobs on different days each week. And within four weeks, if you don't find a job in your customary occupation, don't have an offer or don't expect to be recalled, then you have to start pulling job applications from Taco Bell and Home Depot.

    This seems ridiculously unfair because, along with my fellow Breadliners, I know we're actively searching each week or working part-time jobs to supplement our previous paychecks. Why should we jump through hoops and risk losing UC just because we were terminated a week too late.

    I welcome your comments on this interesting development.

  2. Let's hope you are missing something. It just doesn't seem fair.

  3. If this is the case, I'm screwed. I've been waking up at 3 a.m. to make it to my part time job at Target, as a stock boy, for the past month and a half to help pay for the bills. Now my unemployment is running out? Wow! I'm also starting my own business. How is this fair? How will I pay my bills? I need the extra time to get my business established. Doesn't our President and all of our politicians want us to fend for ourselves and try to make thing better for ourselves? I'm trying but a little help is needed for the time being. Sorry for the rambling but it's not a super easy time of the year for us unemployed/underemployed anyway. Trying to buy Christmas presents for family on limited income has been rough and stressful. Like I said, sorry to ramble but I had to get it off of my chest. The only people that care or can actually relate are the people in my situation.

  4. Greg. Your part-time salary should stretch out your unemployment benefits.

  5. My husband was laid off last year but was able to find something before the regular benefits ran out.
    I am pretty sure that when your regular benefits run out, you will have to file a brand new claim to receive the emergency extensions. You should always just call the unemployment office and speak to a representative yourself, it's easier to get questions answered and plan out your next step.

    I also think their "job search" requirements are pretty loose, just having a resume on qualifies for some of the requirements for receiving food stamps and other TANF, so I am pretty sure it would be similar with unemployment checks.

  6. I just got off the phone with an aide at state Rep. Nick Kotik's office, and she told me that DLI says that we will not get a UC extension if Congress does not pass new legislation.

    "So we're pretty much screwed if they don't pass an extension?" I asked her.

    "Pretty much," she said.

    She also said that she expects Congress will pass something before the extension runs dry. After watching the health care debacle, I am VERY skeptical.