Officials with the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations are asking jobless residents to continue filing for benefits, even though Congress recessed last week without renewing additional unemployment compensation extensions. When the current benefits expire Monday, more than 3,000 unemployed Calhoun County residents could be impacted.
Tara Hutchison, spokeswoman for the Department of Industrial Relations, said the unemployed should continue to file for benefits in the event Congress decides to implement another extension.
“When Congress comes back on the 12th, it will more than likely put an extension back on and it will be retroactive so the people will get their money … hopefully that’s what they’ll do,” Hutchison said. “That’s why we’re telling people to file, so it will all be in our systems and we can just flip a switch and give them their money.”
The department estimates at least 20,000 Alabamians will be instantly affected by the loss of benefits next week and that more could be affected if Congress does not immediately pass the renewal upon its return to session.
In a Thursday e-mail, Shea Snider, press secretary for Rep. Mike Rogers, said he plans to support more unemployment extensions.
"Congressman Rogers has voted many times to extend unemployment benefits for those struggling in this economy and fully supports extending them again," Snider said.
Though Hutchison did not have numbers on who in Calhoun would be immediately impacted by the Monday cutoff deadline, she noted there were 5,817 unemployed residents in the county, 3,648 of whom are receiving benefits.
Hutchison said who will be immediately impacted will depend on which unemployment extension they are currently utilizing.
“It depends on where you are in the process,” Hutchison said.
Since the recession began two years ago, Congress has passed four separate extensions for unemployment benefits. The first tier extended benefits for an additional 20 weeks, the second for 14 weeks, the third for 13 weeks and the fourth for six weeks. These extra weeks were added to the regular state benefits of 26 weeks. Congress also passed a law adding an additional $25 a week to each claimant’s state benefits.
“If you are in the middle or just starting a tier, you’ll be able to complete that tier,” Hutchison said. “But if your tier ends next week, you are done.”
The department will notify claimants by mail as their benefits expire.
Claims can be filed at www.dir.alabama.gov or by calling 1-866-234-5382.