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The Benefit Wiki Project on the OpenCongress wiki is your source for news on unemployment benefits, state-by-state benefit links and information and resources for the unemployed. It's built by and for the unemployed of the "Great Recession."
Latest news on bill progress
President Obama and congressional Republicans struck a deal in early December that would prolong the current regime of extended unemployment benefits - which last for different lengths for different states, depending on how bad the recession is there - until January 2012. States with the worst unemployment rate would still have a maximum of 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, but the compromise would allow those who have become unemployed in the last 99 weeks to continue receiving unemployment benefits until their time expires. No additional benefits were added; it merely maintained the stimulus-level unemployment benefits until 2012. The extended unemployment benefits were due to expire December 11, 2010. The compromise package also contained a number of tax cuts: a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts, a two-year estate tax cut, a two-year temporary cut in the payroll tax rate, equipment-purchase write-offs for businesses and various small-bore tax credits from the stimulus bill.
A few days later on December 9th, Democrats in the House voted to reject the compromise package that contained the unemployment extensions, expressing dissatisfaction for tax cuts for those making over $250,000 and the estate tax cut. With the extended benefits regime due to expire on December 11th, it is unclear what action Congress will take, if any.
For the latest in news on bills that would extend unemployment benefits, see the OpenCongress blog archive on that topic.
See also the wiki article on past unemployment benefit votes.
See below under "unemployment benefit legislation" for background on other bills on extended unemployment benefits.
Select a state to see information for your area
Please note: While editing this main page of the Benefit Wiki is restricted, individual state sections are editable by any member of Open Congress. If you don't see the "Edit" buttons when you go there, just log in at the top a second time with your regular login and you will be able to edit or add information there, using an email-like editing interface. Feel free to add any new information that will help the unemployed, but please, no commentary, these areas are for non-partisan resources only.
- Call, email, fax, twitter, mail all governors, Senators and the President.
- Keep up with NELP.org petition drives--see www.nelp.org, and their site for the unemployed: UnemployedWorkers.org
- White House Contact Info
- Write letters to local newspaper regarding the need for unemployment support. (One resource to use for creating letters online that can be sent to newspapers and periodicals is Publishaletter.com.)
- Join a local "Cube" of the Unemployed Workers Union: Union of Unemployed.com Power in numbers!
[Note: This list of support links was started by Hope in Cali in an OC article titled "Help for the Unemployed till they pass the Bill." It has since been expanded here on the Benefit Wiki to reach more people and be accessible to all forums through the main Wiki link.]
General support for the unemployed
(Some organizations may be out of funds, or awaiting funds.)
- Salvation Army
- Google These Suggestions:
- "Faith based stimulus package"
- "Community Action"
- Angel Food Ministries
- Charities and organizations that can help with paying bills.
- www.safelink.com Get a phone for free if you qualify.
- Worried about your electricity being cut off? Check what protections you might have in the LIHEAP Clearinghouse, a state-by-state guide to disconnection policies: liheap.ncat.org/Disconnect/disconnect.htm
- Help Until The Unemployment Extension Passes A collection of links and news items to help the unemployed who have run out of resources.
- Credit problems or getting hassled? Check out these forums:
- Think it's hard enough finding work, and then you've got to step through the mine field of scam ads on top of that? Check out these forums:
- Free gas from the government??? This is a new program that apparently no one has heard of but is supposedly real. Check these sites for an explanation, and if you find out more, please give us your feedback on the forums or in the state sections of this Wiki.
- This site from the National Council on Aging acts as a clearing house for links to several sources of aid: Benefits Checkup
- Stressed out from the job search, the constant worry, need help with keeping up your spirits and maybe some practical help on job leads or networking strategies? Many state employment agencies have started up support and networking groups, but an organization with a long history of helping groups get together is Meetup.com. Do a search on their site for "unemployed" to find groups in your area, or you can start your own. Meetup.com helps by transitioning online contacts into actual physical meetings by providing online resources to rate meeting places for your group, email and online notification of meetings, and other online resources to help in your organization.
- Have a specific need? You can post a request for help and get actual donations for compelling need at this site that is essentially a public charity resource on the Internet: Modest Needs
Health care-related organizations
Housing and rental information
- Check in your individual states if you're a renter (or will soon be!) for the "Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing" program. These ARRA funds are apparently just now (September) trickling out to the states and may be used up pretty quickly. Looks like only the hardest hit counties, in Florida for example, are giving out the rent money, but it's $300 million going out nationwide. 
- Tenants Together
- For the more radical, but somewhat more risky approach, check out Take Back the Land
General Benefits Info
- Federal information on unemployment insurance
- Emergency Unemployment Compensation program
- State unemployment offices
- Trigger Reports for EUC and TUR
Here's what you can find on Benefit Wiki
- Information on regular unemployment benefits on a state-by-state basis
- Information on other available benefits and programs to help the unemployed get through this recession
- Tier 1 and Tier 2 Emergency Unemployment
- Updates on the latest legislation in Congress to extend or expand unemployment benefits
Find out how to participate or contact us at the Benefit Wiki community portal.
The power of the fully sourced and operational wiki project comes from the citizens across the country researching, writing and fact-checking the information here. It is free, open-source, transparent in its editing standards and sourcing, and non-partisan. All information on Benefit Wiki is required to be referenced to an outside news source, and no partisan information is included.
The Benefit Wiki is coordinated by the OpenCongress team. We encourage you to make any additions or corrections via the "Edit" tab at the top of every project page (you'll need to log-in to edit; see the "Join OpenCongress" link in the top right to register for free).
For questions more generally about the Benefit Wiki or about starting your own project on OpenCongress, please contact the OpenCongress team at writeus@OpenCongress.org.
Discover other community projects (or how to start your own!) at the main OpenCongress wiki community portal.
More background and individual contact information can be found on the Benefit Wiki community portal.
Unemployment benefit legislation
The last big unemployment legislation was H.R.4213. The Senate was expected to vote to end a Republican filibuster of H.R.4213 on July 20, 2010. If this succeeds, the bill is extremely likely to be signed into law the same week.
On July 20, 2010, the Senate is expected to vote to move forward with a substitute amendment that reduces H.R.4213 to just 13 pages (down from 426 pages). The new version's only substantial provision is an extension of unemployment insurance for people who have been out of work for 6 months or longer. The filing deadline for unemployment insurance benfits expired on June 2; the bill would extend that deadline until November 30, 2010, allowing people who exhaust their current tier of benefits, or who have exhausted their most recent tier since June 2nd, to file to move into the next tier of benefits. The bill provides for benefits to be paid back retroactively for people who have seen their payments cut off since the filing deadline expired on June 2.
Additionally, there are three revenue-raiser provisions in the bill (changes to the Travel Promotion Act, cracking down on tax fraud committed by prisoners, and recessions from the Defense Department budget), which are estimated to raise $146 million over the next ten years.
SA2668 and HR3548
This was posted by NoGoodOnesLeft (NGOL) recently. It's a good shorthand version of what to expect if this amendment SA2668 and bill HR3548 pass as now written:
NEW TIERS OF EUC:
Tier 2 - 14 weeks for everyone.
Tier 3 - 13 weeks for at or over 6.5% 3 month average.
Tier 4 - 6 weeks for at or over 8.5% 3 month average.
They added Limitation rules so if your state already got Tier 2 - you will get the one extra week from the new Tier 2 and then will trigger on to Tier 3 for 13 weeks and if your state is at or over 8.5% average, then trigger on to Tier 4 for 6 more weeks.
If your state hasn't got the old Tier 2 of 13 weeks yet - you will get the 14 weeks and if your state goes to or over 6.5% average you will trigger on to Tier 3 for 13 more weeks and then if your state goes to or over 8.5% average trigger on to Tier 4 for 6 more weeks.
Bottom line for individuals who have exhausted their benefits in a state under 8.5%: 14 weeks
Bottom line for individuals who have exhausted their benefits in a state over 8.5%: 14 weeks + 6 weeks
- ↑ Donny Shaw, "What Exactly Is In Obama's Tax Cut/Unemployment Extension Compromise?" OpenCongress blog, Dec. 7, 2010.
- ↑ Donny Shaw, "House Dems Revolt, Vote Down Obama's Tax Deal," Dec. 9, 2010.
- ↑ http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/realestate/orl-money-stops-evictions-091909,0,5766334.storyfckLR
- ↑ http://rhodeisland.realestaterama.com/2009/09/25/hud-announces-31-million-in-recovery-act-funding-to-prevent-homelessness-in-rhode-island-ID072.html
- ↑ "Senate Breaks GOP Filibuster of Unemployment Extension, Bill Now Set to Become Law", Donny Shaw
- ↑ "Senate Breaks GOP Filibuster of Unemployment Extension, Bill Now Set to Become Law", Donny Shaw