Individuals facing long-term unemployment are likely going to be left out in the cold this Christmas week.
The Congressional budget framework deal passed last week did not include an extension of emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) benefits.
EUC benefits were initiated in June 2008 and have been repeatedly extended in response to lingering low employment rates in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
The last extension of EUC benefits, which occurred in 2012, extended the program until Jan. 1, 2014, making this week, ending Dec. 28, the last for which the benefits will be available under the program payment system.
EUC benefits are extended on a tiered system based on state unemployment rates to individuals who have exhausted traditional unemployment benefits.
In Pennsylvania, base unemployment insurance compensation (UC) benefits can be claimed for 26 weeks and, prior to the end of the program, emergency benefits could be claimed for 37 weeks, allowing for a total of 63 weeks of unemployment insurance compensation. That total will drop back to the base 26 weeks at the end of the year.
In Warren County, there are currently 520 active unemployment claims, 170 of which are EUC claims. Those 170 claims stand to lose benefits after this week, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.
The Department posted an update to its eligibility and payment information for unemployment compensation on its website outlining who qualifies for benefits and who will be impacted by the program expiration.
"If you exhaust your regular UC benefits with the week ending Dec. 28, 2013, or later, you do not qualify for an EUC claim. If you exhaust your regular UC benefits with the week ending Dec. 21, 2013, or earlier, you may qualify to establish an EUC claim.
If you exhaust your current Tier of EUC benefits with the week ending Dec. 28, 2013, you do not qualify for additional EUC. If you exhaust Tier 1 or Tier 2 EUC benefits with the week ending Dec. 21, 2013, or earlier, you may qualify for the next tier of EUC.
If you qualified to continue EUC rather than file on a new UC claim at a lower weekly benefit rate, due to the EUC state option, you may continue to collect that tier of EUC until the week ending Dec. 28, 2013. You will then be placed on the new UC claim.
The department will continue to allow biweekly claims for the immediate future as a provision in the event Congress passes legislation extending the program. If Congress passes an extension in the future, claimant who continue to file may be eligible to receive payment for those weeks.