NASHVILLE -- The American Taxpayer Relief Act, which became law late Wednesday, Jan. 2, extends the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program (called EUC08) through Jan. 1, 2014.
The federal benefits had been scheduled to expire at the end of 2012, with claimants receiving their last payment the first week of January.
EUC08 is a federally-funded program providing unemployment benefits to approximately 30,000 Tennesseans who have exhausted the first 26 weeks of state benefits: the maximum provided for under the state unemployment law.
The American Taxpayer Relief Act only extends the deadline to receive existing federal benefits and does not add additional weeks.
Tennessee claimants are currently allowed a maximum of 26 weeks of state benefits and an additional 37 weeks of federal benefits.
"This has been an uncertain time for those depending on unemployment benefits," said Tennessee Labor Commissioner Karla Davis in a news release.
"I would encourage claimants to focus their job search by using our jobs database at Jobs4tn.gov and visiting a Tennessee Career Center."
SHORT DELAY POSSIBLE
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development must still receive authorization from the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) to pay federal EUC08 claims.
While the USDOL expects to have authorizations in place to provide a seamless transition, a delay of a week or more is possible, the news release stated.
A retroactive payment would then be made to make up for lost weeks before regular weekly payments could be resumed.
'KEEP UP CERTIFICATION'
Those who are presently receiving federal unemployment benefits should continue their weekly certification that notifies the department by telephone or Internet that they are still unemployed.
If claimants stop their certification, they will have to contact the claims center to verify their unemployment status, and they could face a delay before their benefits resume.
Claimants should also continue to complete at least two work searches per week in order to meet the requirements for receiving federal benefits.
Claimants can check the status of their unemployment benefit deposit by logging in to https://ui.tn.gov with their personal identification number.
If their account shows that the benefit amount is "released," the deposit will be available within 48 hours.
Additional updates will be provided on the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development website at http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/2012_Unemployment_Update2.shtml