It took nearly two months for the Senate to pass an emergency extension bill that would continue the unemployment benefits being awarded eligible unemployed recipients throughout the United States and the wait for the money is not over yet. As CNN Money reported Friday, depending upon which state one resides in and the way in which one applies or re-applies for the benefits, the money could be anywhere from a few days away from reaching mailboxes (bank accounts for those enjoying direct deposit) to as long as a few weeks. But with President Barack Obama’s signature, the amendment became law Thursday, setting in motion the order for all state labor agencies to begin processing unemployment benefits checks for recipients qualifying under the current unemployment Tier system.
For some of the bills-beleaguered unemployed, good news exists in that some states will begin processing claims on July 28, 29, or 30. As noted, those who receive their monies via electronic means, through direct deposit, will begin receiving their allotments, which includes retroactive amounts extending back to the first week of June, quicker than those using traditional mail.
For example, Businessweek.com reported that the state of Wisconsin has already begun processing checks. By Sunday, Wisconsin will have processed 28,000 checks and hopes to have all 69,000 processed by month’s end.
Much of the delay in processing will occur in states where they have to reprogram computers and where recipients will have to reapply for unemployment benefits. Some states, like New York, urged recipients to keep reapplying and updating their paperwork during the Senate stalemate. Those that complied will see their checks a little quicker as well. WTEN in Albany reported that New York would begin processing checks by Wednesday.
Since state guidelines, regulations, and payment systems are different, eligibility and retroactive payments will undoubtedly vary. For example, New York will dole out the retroactive pay in one lump sum immediately. California, however, will pay out in two-week increments.
As for the $25 supplemental FAC stipend added by President Obama last year, it will not be included on the just-passed unemployment extension. However, according to Examiner, the state of Connecticut will continue to pay the $25 amount if eligible recipients applied before May 23, 2010.
Emergency unemployment benefits extension recipients are urged to check with their respective state’s department of labor for updates on the processing of benefits. Some state’s even allow for recipients to check their eligibility status online.
Unfortunately, there was no provision for a Tier V extension, which would extend benefits further than the four Tiers already provided for in previous emergency extension bills. To date, even though the Department of Labor records not only a record median rate for unemployment (over twice the regular median unemployment rate) but an estimated 4.3 million individuals who have exhausted their unemployment benefits, there has yet to be a single bill promoting the idea of a Tier V extension introduced into either chamber of Congress. Currently, under the four-Tier system and according to unemployment rates and eligibility, some recipients are eligible for up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits.