FAQ Friday – How does sequestration affect extended unemployment insurance benefits?

Federal budget reductions called “sequestration” are forcing a 10.7 percent cut in extended unemployment benefits for thousands of idled Idaho workers – at least through September.

In March, the Idaho Department of Labor notified more than 6,000 extended benefit claimants their benefit payments and remaining extension balance will both be reduced by 10.7 percent. Weekly extended benefit payment reductions began with the payment for the week of March 31 and run through the week of Sept. 22.

Here are answers to questions you might have:

What will happen to my weekly payments?

Your weekly benefit amount will be reduced by by 10.7%. For example, if your current weekly benefit amount is $200, it will be reduced to $178.00.

How will I know how much money I have available in extended benefits and what my new weekly benefit amount will be?

On or around March 31, 2013, you should have received a letter notifying you of your reduced weekly benefit amount and your remaining extension balance.

Does this mean my extended benefits will be cut by 21.4 percent?

Not necessarily. Each reduction will be made separately. The total impact will depend on your individual circumstances and how long you have been on extended benefits. If you’ve been on extended benefits longer you will see a smaller reduction than if you had just enrolled. moneyarrow

Will my initial extended benefit amount be cut by 10.7 percent or just what I have left?

Only your remaining balance will be reduced by 10.7 percent. For example, if you received $1,000 in e xtension benefits and have $200 left, your remaining balance of $200 will be reduced by 10.7 percent, leaving you with about $178.

Will my 10.7 percent reduction ever be restored?

No. The U.S. Department of Labor has instructed us to implement a budget cut to extended benefits that will not be restored.

What happens in October when the new federal budget is in place?

We could see more budget cuts starting Oct. 1 and do not know if the cuts will be more or less. U.S. Department of Labor staff indicate they will keep us updated. We will let you know when they inform us of any future cuts.

Do these cuts impact all 50 states?

Yes, however other states may reduce benefits by different amounts because it may take them more time to adjust their systems. The longer a state takes, the greater the reduction. The earlier the adjustments are made, the less of a reduction. Idaho was able to adjust its system prior to March 31 and minimize the depth of the reduction for our claimants.

Do these cuts impact regular benefits?

No.

Can I protest my benefit reduction?

No. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, protesting this across-the-board sequestration cut is not an option.

What if I am running out of benefits and have never been on an extension?

Once you exhaust the money in your regular claim, an extension application will be sent to the address you entered on your initial claim. Complete and return the application ASAP. If you are eligible, you will receive information about your new benefit amount and can continue filing your weekly reports

How am I supposed to pay my bills?

You do not have to be collecting unemployment to take advantage of our free services for job seekers. We also have a list of local community resources that may be able to help.

Can you help me find my next job?

Absolutely. We’re pretty good at helping people reach their career goals and encourage you to take advantage of our free services for job seekers.