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Unemployed emergency assistance to end soon

Plight of long-term jobless remains as serious as ever

Carla St.Louis | 12/25/2013, 9 a.m.
While many unemployed Black Floridians were able to remain financially afloat due to government-funded budget extensions, New Year’s Day may ...

While many unemployed Black Floridians were able to remain financially afloat due to government-funded budget extensions, New Year’s Day may prove to be a day of reckoning as scheduled budget cuts kick in.

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WILSON

As of the week ending December 28, nearly 119,000 Floridians will have their emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) terminated, regardless of any benefits remaining on the claim.

It’s a move that has Floridian policy makers disagreeing with the U.S. House of Representatives' passing of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013.

“It's wrong of Congress not to extend unemployment benefits,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). “If you are someone who the fortunes have turned against, and you do not have a job, you are absolutely needing that economic cushion.”

Claimants began receiving letters as early as last week from the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) that read: “There is no “phase-out” period for EUC and all EUC payments will cease with the payment of the week ending December 28, 2013 regardless of any benefits remaining in the account of any individual claim.”

“While this budget deal takes some important moral stands by safeguarding entitlements including social security and softening sequestration’s savage cuts [...] it fails to uphold Congress’s moral obligation to millions who have been locked out of the job market,” said Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson (FL 24). “Even as America recovers from the Great Recession, the plight of the long-term unemployed remains as serious as ever.”

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NELSON

As many Floridians prepare for a financial drop, Democratic allies and the White House continue to use the EUC extension as a bargaining too,l despite Congress already allowing a $5 billion expansion in food stamps assistance to expire.

Why benefits mattered for ‘us’

Unlike regular unemployment payments that are paid within a 26-week time span, the EUC program was created for claimants who exhausted their benefits.

It ushered in a sigh of relief for Florida’s beleaguered middle class that make up the crux of recipients receiving unemployment benefits.

Earlier this year, Floridians received a blow of uncertainty after their unemployment benefits were decreased.

As of May 26, 2013 because of the sequestration, the federally-funded program reduced payments between May 26 and October 19 by ordinance of the U.S. Department of Labor. Thus, Floridians receiving EUC Tier III benefits watched their payments be reduced by four weeks or a loss of $1,100.

It is estimated that without Congressional intervention, an estimated 1.3 million Americans will lose their EUC immediately after the program expires, with an additional 3.6 million by the end of 2014, according to a report released by the Labor Department and the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

“We cannot fix our economy by simply abandoning the people struggling the most to survive,” Wilson said.

According to the DEO letter, f the federal government extends the program, information will be posted on the DEO website and all potentially eligible individuals will be notified.

For more information on EUC, visit www.floridajobs.org, www.dol.gov or call the Florida Reemployment Assistance Contact Center at 800-204-2418.