I’m Receiving Unemployment: What Now?

photo montage of unemployment line and help wanted ads

I’m getting questions about the status of unemployment claims, now that Congress has approved the “fiscal cliff” deal and President Obama has signed the American Taxpayer Relief Act into law. This bill extends expiring unemployment benefits through 2013. The two to three million Americans who are receiving Emergency Unemployment Compensation — also known as long-term unemployment benefits, emergency unemployment benefits and unemployment extension — can continue to file claims.

In most states, claimants who exhausted their regular state unemployment benefits (the first 26 weeks of unemployment) with payments ending on December 29th, 2012, will be notified by mail if they are qualified to receive Emergency Unemployment Compensation, with instructions on how to apply.

I personally called the Texas Workforce Commission and was greeted immediately with this pre-recorded message:

Congress extended the deadline that allows TWC to continue taking emergency unemployment compensation claims for individuals who have not yet qualified for those benefits and to continue paying emergency unemployment compensation  to  those with a remaining balance. Congress did not add additional weeks for claimants who have already exhausted all benefits. When you exhaust our benefits, TWC will notify you by mail  if you are eligible  for additional benefits, so make sure we have your current address. Continue to request payment every two weeks and meet all eligibility requirements.

Most states probably have the same message to unemployed people, but be sure to call your state unemployment agency to be sure.

Since 2008, the federal government has funded extensions of state unemployment benefits that kick in once state funds, 26 weeks of benefits, are exhausted. Many unemployed people can receive up to 99 weeks of benefits with extended unemployment. For more information, read the article I wrote on Sunday, which gives a good explanation and shares a brief video explaining the benefits.

“The deal preserves a vital lifeline of support for 2 million long-term unemployed workers who faced an abrupt cut-off of all jobless aid this week, and for millions more who will run out of state unemployment insurance during 2013,” said Christine Owens, Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project, in a statement on Wednesday.

So in short: keep doing what you’re already doing, and call the number you normally call with questions so that you can be certain that there haven’t been any changes in processes.

To find individual state contact information and office locations, as well as instructions on filing a claim in your state, visit the U.S. Department of Labor portal. To stay up to date on topics affecting unemployed people, follow the U.S. Department of Labor on Facebook and Twitter.



I am an “an unapologetic member of the Christian Left” and worked in workforce development with youth and adult job-seekers for 10 years. Most of my career has been devoted to working with “the least of these” and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. I’m passionate about their struggles. To stay on top of topics I discuss, subscribe to my public updates on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me via LinkedIn. I do also have a grossly neglected blogFind me somewhere and join my conversations.