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  • Extension to Emergency Unemployment Compensation now depends on Congress.

    The big news last week was the phasing out of emergency unemployment compensation on the 31st of November 2010. Hundreds of thousands were immediately affected and over a million will be affected if congress does not extend emergency compensation soon.

    Congress is still in gridlock over the issue with Republicans claiming they sympathize with unemployed workers but need more information on how the benefits will be financed.

    All of this has created some confusion about what exactly this means for unemployed workers in South Carolina. This series of articles will look into the situation of federal unemployment programs: Extended Benefits, Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Federal Additional Compensation.

    The Emergency Unemployment Compensation.

    The Emergency Unemployment Compensation is a unemployment aid program funded entirely by the Federal government. The purpose is to help long term unemployed workers which have been affected by the downturn in the economy which has increased the unemployment rate of many states. South Carolina, for instance, has an unemployment rate of 10.71 percent, which gives it access to Tier 4 EUC benefits. More on that soon.

    What happened exactly on the 31st of November 2010?

    On the 31st of November the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program began to phase out. That means unemployed workers could neither file new claims for EUC or jump to another tier once their current tier of benefits expires. To understand this we must review the EUC tier system and how the changes may affect you.

    Tier 1 provides an extra 20 weeks of benefits. An EUC Tier 1 claim’s last effective date was November 24, 2010.

    Tier 2 can provide up to 13 extra weeks. Previously unemployed workers would automatically rollover from Tier 1 to Tier 2. This is now suspended during this period. The claimant will have to report in person to file for Tier 2

    Tier 3 provides an additional 13 weeks for States that have an unemployment rate over 6 percent. This tier applies to South Carolina.

    Tier 4 which grants 4 to 6 additional weeks if you live or work in a state where unemployment is 8.5 percent or higher. Unfortunately, South Carolina qualifies easily for this tier with over 10 percent unemployment levels.

    The key point is that to advance to the next benefit tier, the prior tier must have been exhausted on or before November 30, 2010. Thus, the next tier must have been effective on or before December 1.

    What should you do?

    Continue filing for EUC benefits. The South Carolina Department of Employment continues to accept applications. However, you must understand you will only be eligible if Congress extends the filing deadlines. The good news is if you continue to file for EUC benefits and congress approves it retroactively, as it did with the previous extension, you will be given the unemployment benefits you are owed in a lump sum.

    What happens to the other Federal unemployment benefits? Learn more in the next article of this series.

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