Federal Unemployment Benefits Set To Expire

By: Meaghan M. Norman Email
By: Meaghan M. Norman Email

LANSING--- After this Saturday, November 27, if you want an extension on your federal unemployment benefits, you are out of luck.

Congress has not yet voted to extend the benefits which means the unemployment office in Michigan will not be processing any new claims.

Penny Swan has been unemployed for almost two years and she relies heavily on her federal unemployment benefits that will run out next week.

"It means I can't pay rent I don't have any money for food. I can't put gas in my car I can't buy medicine I need. Anything you go out and spend money for isn't there," said Swan.

Saturday is the last possible day to apply for a federal extension. The state unemployment office is not processing any new federal emergency unemployment claims.

"It's a creature of federal law and unfortunately the state of Michigan is powerless to control it," said Stephen Geskey, the director of Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency.

The last extension that Congress granted runs out November 30, 2010. But all benefits don't just drop off on that date. It's a gradul process but one with potentially catastrophic consequences.

"For the most part it will continue from November until April. For that time period we're looking at 200,000 people."

Next week Penny Swan will be one of 45,000 people without federal benefits and without another option.

"People think because we're on unemployment we're sitting back enjoying ourselves. But $330 per week, you can't have much after paying rent, car insurance," said Swan.

There is some good news though, the state's unemployment benefits are still intact. You can still get up to 26 weeks of benefits for those who qualify.

"This is just one state of 50, there are 50 states going through this right now," said Geskey.

Swan can take solace in knowing that she is not alone, but it won't help her put food on the table over the holidays.

"I never thought I'd be in these straits and I don't see a way out," said Swan.

If you are unsure of your benefits balance, you can log onto the MARVIN system or use the call center. You may have a better response by going online to the state's Web site and MARVIN because the unemployment agency has been seeing a substantial increase in call volume.

For those who are at risk of losing their benefits or they have already run out, there are resources out there. Just click the links at the bottom of this article.

MARVIN: 1-866-636-3993, option 2
Toll-free claims line: 1-866-500-0017
Explanation of benefits: 1-866-MI-HELPS (1-866-644-3577)

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