Rhode Island to Offer Extended Benefits for Unemployed
June 25, 2008
The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training announced today it will trigger on Extended Unemployment Insurance Benefits effective July 6, 2008. Extended Benefits will allow eligible job seekers who have exhausted their regular Unemployment Insurance benefits to collect up to 13 weeks in additional benefit payments.
Director of Labor and Training Sandra M. Powell says, “Extended Benefits will provide a stable income for those who continue to seek gainful employment during a difficult economy.”
Rhode Island law states that Extended Benefits must trigger when the state’s 13-week average unemployment rate hits 6.5 percent. In May, the Rhode Island unemployment rate reached 7.2 percent, thereby raising its three-month average unemployment rate to 6.5 percent. The only other state currently offering Extended Benefits is Alaska, which enacted Extended Benefits by other economic triggers.
However, federal legislation is pending that could offer Extended Benefits to all states. If this legislation passes, it could broaden the timeframe for eligibility.
Powell stresses that the recent unemployment situation in Rhode Island should not be considered a disincentive to searching for work. “Even during recessionary times, Rhode Island has recorded between 65,000 and 70,000 job openings each business quarter, as people change jobs, leave jobs or become promoted during the normal course of business.” She notes that counselors at the netWORKri one-stop centers throughout the state are ready and able to assist job seekers with their résumés, job searches and interviewing skills.
DLT Assistant Director of Income Support Raymond Filippone estimates that between 8,000 and 10,800 claimants may be eligible for Extended Benefits. Claimants may be eligible for Extended Benefits if they meet the following three requirements:
Additionally, claimants must meet certain earnings and other eligibility requirements to qualify for Extended Benefits.
Thirteen weeks is the maximum duration of an individual’s Extended Benefits claim. A claimant’s weekly Extended Benefits rate will be the same as the rate that he or she collected previously through the regular Unemployment Insurance program. Once eligibility is determined, a claimant will receive payments either via Electronic Payment Card or via direct deposit into an existing checking or saving account.
During the week ending July 5, the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training will mail notices to all those who are potentially eligible for benefits. This notice will explain the appropriate date and time—determined by last name—when a claimant can call the Unemployment Insurance Service Center to determine eligibility.
As in the past, the process of determining Extended Benefit eligibility may take up to three weeks. Those whose eligibility is not determined by the first weeks of the Extended Benefits program will be compensated for those weeks when they receive their first benefit payment.
After a person is notified that he or she may be eligible for Extended Benefits, that person must call during the day and time period designated in the notification letter. Once the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training determines that a claimant is eligible, the claimant will receive a notification of his or her benefit rate and maximum benefits payable. Eligible claimants must then call the department’s automated telephone line, TeleServe, on a weekly basis and during non-business hours to certify for Extended Benefits claims. The department expects to begin issuing payments during the week ending July 19.
The Unemployment Insurance Service Center can be reached at (401) 243-9100. Please note that Unemployment Service Center staff will address Extended Benefits eligibility claims no earlier than Monday, July 7.
The public can learn about Extended Benefits by visiting the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training’s web site at www.dlt.ri.gov. An FAQ about Extended Benefits is currently posted, and will be updated as more information becomes available.
RI Department of Labor and Training