Time Running Out for Unemployment Benefits

December 27, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - As many as 800,000 unemployed American will see their federal unemployment benefits come to an end on December 28, according to an Associated Press story.

Both house of Congress have adjourned for the year without extending the federal benefits, meaning that 750,000 to 800,000 unemployed Americans will get cut off on December 28, while an additional 95,000 jobless workers will exhaust their state benefits each week afterward.

To date, approximately 1 million people have already exhausted all of their benefits.

Dueling Bills

At the heart of the issue were two competing bills that failed to make it through both houses of the Congress:   a $5 billion plan from the Senate to extended benefits 13 weeks for people now receiving them or who were newly eligible and a $900 million plan from the House of Representative for five extra weeks for Americans in a few states with high unemployment rates.

Through much of the debate, President Bush has remained quiet, allowing the two Houses to reach a consensus.   However, the President last week ended his silence during his radio address saying the extension of benefits should be the “first order of business” for the new Congress.

Regardless of the Congressional stalemate, some states will continue to process claims for benefits, while Idaho will keep paying them with the expectation that funding will be available early next year, she said.