Montana This Morning

Dec 10, 2009 2:19 PM

Lawmakers working on unemployment benefits extension

Thousands of people in Montana, who are poised to lose their emergency unemployment benefits at the end of the month, may see relief. But the question of just when that may happen remains to be answered.

The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program (EUC), which provides aid to 7,700 out-of-work Montanans, is set to expire on December 31st.

This means anyone who has not yet exhausted their benefits would not be eligible to receive the additional 14 week extension.

Both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate are working on legislation to fix the glitch. Senate Bill 2831 would push back the deadline until December 31, 2010, while House Resolution 4183 would extend it to March 31, 2011.

However, Congress adjourns for the year on December 18th and must act before then.

"If, for whatever reason, this doens't get passed by the 31st, say...they don't... Congress doesn't get it passed, the Presidoesn'tesn't sign it until... January or February, then all of it would be retroactive, and we would implement it so that nobody would lose any of those weeks" explained Roy Mulvaney, with the Administrator for the Unemployment Insurance Division in Helena.

He added that his department would notify claimants to exactly what has passed, how it is implemented, and what requirements are needed to get the emergency extensions.


(from December 9, 2009) The economic recession may go from bad to worse for thousands of Montana's unemployed.

According to a study published Monday by the National Employment Law Project, 1,000,000 American workers and nearly 7,700 Montanans, will become ineligible for unemployment benefits in January unless Congress reauthorize's the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's unemployment insurance programs by the end of December.

Back in July of 2008, Congress created the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program. The federally-funded plan supplements the basic 28 weeks of Montana state unemployment insurance.

So, if an individual exhausts their "regular" state unemployment insurance benefits, they can file an EUC claim.

Then in November, Congress expanded that number. So, once a person exhausts both their "regular" benefits and their EUC benefits, he or she can apply for the additional 14 weeks of aid.

After using their 20 weeks EUC benefits under Tier 1 and the first 13 weeks of aid in Tier 2, then a person qualifies for another 13 weeks of pay under Tier 3.

However, the EUC program is scheduled to expire at the end of the month, and the November law did not extend that deadline.

Roy Mulvaney, with the Administrator for the Unemployment Insurance Division in Helena says, "House Resolution 4183 would extend the claim filing date from December 31, 2009 to March 31, 2011. So, those folks wouldn't lose their benefits with the program ending December 31st."

Congress adjourns December 18th. So, a decision to expand the EUC program must be reached before then.

In the meantime, Mulvaney says for an individual to receive the additional Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits, he or she needs to file a claim before December 26th. That is technically the last day any new federal claims may be paid.

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