Sunday, October 4, 2009

Extended Benefits

Ah, gentle readers. Why must the people at the NYS Unemployment Office make things so very difficult for us poor unemployeds? I mean, the system works OK. You go to the website. You log on. You type in the pertinent information and you go off on your merry job hunting way. But there is this extension. And when you go to check your balance, it doesn't always jive with what you have recorded - what you have been carefully keeping track of.

For instance, dear ones, last week, when your MatchGirl logged onto the system to file her claim, she saw that her remaining balance was one week's worth of pay! Now, that couldn't be true. No matter how the math could be added, she simply hadn't exhausted the emergency benefits. She'd barely entered them. And, today when she logged on, it told her that the amount left worked out to about six weeks - and, no matter the math - calculators and calendars out, could she figure out where this monetary amount came from.

So, I looked, for about the millionth time, at the New York State Department of Labor Website and read, for about the millionth time, the details about extended and emergency benefits. And I took out my calculator and my calendar again. And it still doesn't make sense. Not according to any math that I know how to do. Not according to the amount of time for which I have been collecting unemployment and not according to any of my own math.

For those of you who would like to read it for the zillionth time (cos you know you all check in on it to see if it makes more or less sense on a regular basis) here's what the NYSDoL has to say:
Important Notice About
Unemployment Benefit Extensions

On September 22, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation to extend Unemployment Insurance benefits for an additional 13 weeks for states, like New York, with consistently high unemployment rates. However, legislation to extend benefits must still pass the Senate and be signed into law. Therefore, this proposed extension is NOT in effect at this time. Please continue to claim weekly benefits in the usual manner. It is not necessary to file a new claim unless you are advised to do so. Please continue to check this web site for updates.

Currently, New York State provides 26 weeks of regular unemployment insurance benefits.

An additional 53 weeks of unemployment benefits have been approved for claimants who meet certain criteria.

The first 33 weeks fall under the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) Program, and are known as Emergency Benefits; the last 20 weeks fall under a different program titled the Extended Benefits (EB) Program, and are known as Extended Benefits. Per current Federal legislation, specific deadlines apply to the different extensions, and as a result, not all claimants are eligible for the full 53 additional weeks of benefits.

The extensions are broken down as follows:

Emergency Benefits include two tiers:

* Tier 1 (20 weeks) – to be eligible for any additional benefits under Tier 1, the individual must exhaust regular benefits on or before the week ending December 20, 2009, and start claiming Emergency Benefits on or before week ending December 27, 2009. Note: This means the individual must have filed their initial claim for regular unemployment benefits effective on or before Monday, June 15, 2009.
* Tier 2 (13 weeks) – to be eligible for any additional benefits under Tier 2, the individual must exhaust all 20 weeks of Tier 1 on or before the week ending December 27, 2009. Note: This means that the individual must have filed their initial claim for regular unemployment benefits effective on or before Monday, February 2, 2009.

The last payable week of both Tier 1 and Tier 2 is the week ending June 6, 2010.

Extended Benefits (20 weeks: (13 initial plus the seven (7) added eff. July, 17 2009)) are available to individuals who exhaust all 33 weeks of Emergency Benefits. However, the last payable week of Extended Benefits is the week ending December 27, 2009. Note: This means the individual must have filed their initial claim for regular unemployment benefits effective on or before Monday, October 27, 2008.
Individuals who have a claim with New York State, but live in another state that is not in an extended benefit period, will be eligible for only 2 weeks of extended benefits (for extended benefits status of other states, see Frequently Asked Questions below).

Work search requirements are more stringent for individuals claiming Extended Benefits (see Frequently Asked Questions below). However, individuals in training approved by the New York State Department of Labor, are not required to look for work while claiming benefits.

And, dear readers, please don't write in and tell me I should just call. You know it's impossible to get anyone on the phone. While unemployeds do have some extra time on our hands, this is one girl who has been quite busy in her unemployment.

Anyway, the DoL site was down most of the week, but it's up and running now. Don't forget to log on and claim your weekly benefits!


  1. I finally accessed the site around 7pm on Sunday night. But that means I won't get my money until Wednesday night/Thurs morning. Don't those people realize that some of us are hanging on a few dollars from check to check??!!!

    And is nearly impossible to get a real person on the phone at the NY Dept of Labor. I had to try for 6 days straight calling 3 times/day and even that final time I had to hold for 30 minutes. All the other times I called, it said "Due to high volume of calls, we are unable to help you at this time. Goodbye." CLICK! It didn't even give me the option to hold!!

  2. Yes, I am panicked, too! I believe that once you start collecting the emergency/extended benefits, your remaining balance appears as zero, even though you still get money. So not helpful.

    "Q: What if my on-line benefit payment history shows “0” under Remaining Balance?

    A: If you are eligible for additional benefits under a new extension program, the remaining balance amount will be adjusted the next time you claim benefits. You do not have to file a new unemployment claim, unless the system advises you to. Please note that you are not eligible for additional benefits if you were told that your benefits ran out when you last claimed weekly benefits."

  3. Through friends and family, I was able to get the opinion from a federally-employed lawyer and a retired accountant to read all the fine print on the NYS labor site and neither of them could tell me anything solid other than "it appears you will have benefits for an additional 33 weeks". But no one can say for certain when my benefits will stop. It's like, Here, we're helping you but also were making you feel less secure than you've ever felt about your future in NYC, now go look for a job that doesn't exist. It's effed up.

  4. My unemployment ran out on August 6th, 2009. I still do not have employment. If the senate extends unemployment, will I be eligible again??

  5. I guess the people who were laid off BEFORE October 27th 2008 are the "lucky" ones. LOL. They are the ONLY ones in this bad economy who will get the full 79 weeks. :-)

    Ok...seriously, NONE of us who have been laid off are "lucky". I'm just joking of course.

    But those like me who were laid off AFTER July 9th 2009 aren't eligible for ANY of the extra 53 weeks. Not Tier 1, Tier 2 OR the extended benefits. :-(

    My 26 weeks are up on January I have SOME time to get a job....but the clock is ticking.

    I think they just passed another 13 week extension in the Senate(waiting for the house?)....and that it'll be 20 weeks for people in states with unemployment rates over 8.5%? I think that would include New York where I'm at. sigh

    But I'm not sure. It's like they purposely make it difficult to figure out. If I can't get full time work by January....I don't want to sweat it out not knowing for sure if the extension will go thru or not. I really feel for those who are in limbo right now. It's a scary thought.

    Good luck to all....and the little matchstick girl.


  6. im so confused about extensions

  7. How do you survive when all extensions have been exhausted and you haven't been hired.

  8. Lol, thats funny, my last week would be Jan 17th too. Thats 26 regular plus the 20 tier 1. I dont think its fair that people still get tier 2 if they have been unemployed for so long, yet most people lost their jobs the beginning of 2009... A friend of a friend told me that you could get unemployment for 3 years now, with a wink. I know I can get the 26 weeks of training benefits, and I am actually considering getting my Masters degree, but 26 weeks isn't enough to get me through the whole masters program. Its starting to get frustrating, I gotta figure it out.

  9. I ran out of all 79 weeks of unemployment benefits on Sept. 4, 2009. The website still allows me to certify which I have done since that date. I am worried about the last line that states "Note: You are not eligible for additional benefits if you were told your benefits ran out when you last claimed weekly benefits". I did my weekly claim today and I am wondering if I will be eligible for this new extension. Is anyone in the same boat or does anyone know if I am elilible for the new extension?

  10. Well, it is January 13th 2010 and I am in total agreement with the writer of this piece. I had started my extended benefits around Dec 19 which would mean according to the calendar that I can get unemployment till sometime in June 2010. The problem is that the website says I only have around $2400 left to claim which would mean I only have till Feb 25th. In addition to this all my year end date on the site says May 23rd 2010. Which is it? May 23rd, Feb 25th or June 25th? Ay....