Thousands of out of work New Jerseyans will be receiving retroactive unemployment checks soon.
As reported by USA Today online, President Obama has signed a bill into law extending the deadline for Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits through the end of November. EUC provides up to 53 weeks of unemployment compensation through a series of four successive ‘tiers’. Each tier provided a certain amount of weeks additional jobless benefits.
The original expiration date for the EUC program was June 2, 2010. The EUC program was allowed to expire because members of the U.S. Senate could not agree on how to pay for the extension. That issue was finally resolved on July 20th, when the Senate voted 60-40 in favor of the extension.
New Jersey’s unemployment rate is currently 9.6% according to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development. New Jerseyans eligible for retroactive EUC checks should receive paperwork in the mail within the next few weeks.
New Jersey jobless a bit luckier than others
Fortunately for the unemployed in New Jersey, jobless benefits continued even after the expiration of EUC under a program called Extended Benefits (EB). EB is a part state-part federal program that provides up to 20 weeks of unemployment compensation once all federal extensions (EUC) run out. But because the EUC deadline was allowed to expire, many unemployed New Jerseyans could not qualify for the next tier of unemployment benefits and were automatically placed on the state EB program. Although this prevented many New Jerseyans from having to go without checks, the rules for collecting EB were more stringent, requiring those collecting unemployment to send proof of applying to 3 jobs every week.
I was put on EB, now what happens?
Your EB will be put on hold in whatever week you are in so you can be placed back on EUC tier benefits. Once EUC benefits run out and there are no more deadline extensions or additional tiers, you will resume your EB where you left off. So if you were on week 4 of EB, New Jersey will interrupt those unemployment benefits so you can collect the EUC benefits. When EUC runs out, you will resume EB at week 5. You do not have to file a new claim. The state of New Jersey will do this for you. Just look for paperwork and instructions on filing in the mail.
If you have completed all four tiers of the EUC program and were placed on EB, this current bill signed by President Obama does not apply to you. Your EB would only be interrupted if the federal government created a fifth tier of EUC benefits. If you have completed your initial jobless claim benefits, all four tiers of EUC benefits, and all 20 weeks of EB, you have completely exhausted your unemployment benefits.
I’m in state approved schooling. Can I collect unemployment and training benefits?
If you are unemployed and you decided to go back to school as part of New Jersey’s school/job training program, you may be eligible to collect Additional Benefits during Training (ABT). Speak with a counselor at your nearest unemployment call center about how to apply for ABT and what requirements you need to fulfill. ABT will not start until all federal unemployment extensions are exhausted. Once you are on ABT, you do not qualify for the Federal Additional Compensation (FAC) program which provided an extra $25 a week in jobless benefits.
Obama Signs Unemployment Benefits Extension, USA Today website, July 22, 2010
Employment Down Slightly in June; Unemployment Rate at 9.6 Percent NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development, press release on July 14, 2010
NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development website: unemployment benefits extensions