An estimated 26,000 Tennesseans will qualify for another round of extended unemployment benefits under federal legislation signed by President Bush, with hundreds more becoming eligible each day. Unemployed Tennesseans can collect up to 26 weeks of unemployment normally. In June, Congress approved the first 13 week extension due to the downturn in the economy. The second extension was signed November 21 by the President.
The new legislation provides up to seven more weeks of benefits to those who participated in the first extension for a total of 20 weeks. Then if Tennessee's unemployment rate remains above six percent, unemployment claimants will qualify for another 13 weeks for a possible total of 59 weeks of benefits for eligible claimants.
The legislation provides that the federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs to extend the benefits. The money will not be drawn from Tennessee's unemployment trust fund.
"This move by our congressional representatives in Washington comes at a crucial time for Tennessee and for our nation," said Governor Phil Bredesen. "Unemployed people across the country are having a tough time getting back to work, and this extension will provide needed assistance to Tennesseans during their job search."
The Department of Labor & Workforce Development is currently reviewing files to determine who may be eligible. Those who are currently receiving basic or extended benefits will transition automatically when they exhaust. Those who have already exhausted their benefits and qualify will be notified by mail. No one will be required to come into a local Labor & Workforce Development Office or Career Center. Nor will they be required to call the unemployment claims center.
Individuals who received the first extension and exhausted those benefits will receive an application in the mail to update their benefit records. If they are still unemployed, they should return the application form by mail. Individuals who are determined eligible should expect to receive their first extended unemployment compensation payment in two to three weeks.
"This federal extension is very much needed for unemployed Tennesseans," said Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner James Neeley. "Our department will do our best to get these benefits to the claimants as quickly as possible."