Tennessee Unemployment Benefits Extension – 20 More Weeks?

Update – Feb 7, 2011 – Legislation to add extra weeks for 99ers

Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee (Calif.) and Bobby Scott (Va.) are reintroducing legislation this week to provide additional weeks of unemployment insurance benefits for “99ers,”

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Part of Obama’s 2009 stimulus package was extra funding for states to extend the length of unemployment benefits if necessary.  Most states have a fixed number of weeks available for benefits but can increase the number of weeks if the economic climate is bad enough.  This is usually measured by the unemployment rate.

The unemployment rate in Tennesse was 9.9% for April 2009 which is up from 6.0% in April of last year.  This is the highest unemployment rate in 25 years.  Tennesse has qualified for $141 million to pay for extended benefits as well as upgrades to the benefit infrastructure.

What unemployment benefits are available now?

Currently Tennessee will pay benefits for 26 weeks which is the normal payout period.  There is another 33 weeks which is available because of the 2009 stimulus package for a total of 59 weeks.

Unemployed workers can get up to $275 per week in benefits plus a bonus $25 a week from the federal government for a total of $300 per week.

Will the unemployment benefits be extended by another 20 weeks?

[edit – please note that this bill has been passed]

Currently there is a bill called HB 2324 which if passed will increase benefits by up to 20 weeks.  If the claimant has any children the bill will also add on $15 per week per child up to 3 kids.  This bill has not been made law yet but you can check on the status of the bill here.  At the moment (May 22) it says that it is scheduled for the Finance, Means and Ways committe for May 27.  This bill was first introduced on Feb 26 so it is taking a long time.

Once the bill is passed by the FMW committee then it will go to the house and senate and lastly the governor.

There is a very good chance that unemployment benefits will be extended by 20 weeks however the slow machine of politics means that it might take a while.