For thousands of Americans without work and collecting unemployment insurance, the process gets stickier today with the arrival of the deadline for accessing
For thousands of Americans without work and collecting unemployment insurance, the process gets stickier today with the arrival of the deadline for accessing the next tier of benefits — a deadline estimated to drop hundreds of thousands of jobless folks from the UI rolls this week.
This filing deadline is different than the “expiration of benefits” that many news outlets are reporting this morning. If you’re currently collecting checks in one tier of the five-tier process (which includes state help and four levels of federal help), those checks will continue to arrive until you exhaust the weeks remaining in that tier.
(Currently, state benefits run for 26 weeks; Tier I of the federal help for 20 weeks; Tier II for 14 weeks; Tier III for 13 weeks (for states with unemployment rates higher than 6 percent); and Tier IV for another 6 weeks for states with unemployment rates topping 8.5 percent.)
So, for example, if you’re on week 13.5 of Tier II benefits, you won’t be able to apply for Tier III later this week, when Tier II expires.
That’s not as harsh as having the checks stop for everyone, but neither is the deadline trivial. The National Employment Law Project estimates that 212,000 unemployed folks will lose their benefits this week, without the option of filing for the next level.
The Senate tried to extend that filing deadline through the end of April, but an objection by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) sent the lawmakers on their two-week spring break without passing the bill. The best they could manage was to launch the cloture process, which will allow Democrats to pass the bill despite the Coburn’s blockade. (The Oklahoma Republican wants to pay the $9.2 billion tab using unspent stimulus funds. The Democrats’ bill puts the tab on the deficit.)
The Senate is scheduled to vote next Monday on the cloture measure. The office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said that the benefits will be retroactive to today.
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