Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rell: Unemployed may remain eligible for benefits

Governor M. Jodi Rell has announced that the state Department of Labor has begun notifying more than 18,000 unemployed people that they may be eligible to extend their federal jobless benefits seven more weeks.
"With the holiday season upon us, this is welcome news for those struggling to feed families, pay mortgages and keep their homes warm," Governor Rell noted. "These serious economic times make it essential that our unemployed residents have economic stability while searching for new employment."
The Governor said the DOL mailed letters Thursday and Friday to individuals who have exhausted their extended federal compensation that had been extended 13 weeks this past summer. The letters provide instructions on how to apply for a seven-week extension.
State Labor officials say it now takes an average of 16 weeks to find a new job, compared with 13 weeks last year. The state has issued nearly $650 million in regular unemployment insurance benefits this year and more than $105 million in federal extended benefits.
"While I have confidence that Connecticut will weather this economic storm, providing unemployment benefits is one of the most important things we can do to help our citizens get through this difficult time," the Governor said.
State Labor Commissioner Patricia H. Mayfield said with the state's unemployment rate at 6.5 percent, her agency is processing about 80,000 unemployment claims each week, a 50 percent jump over last year.
"Fortunately, Governor Rell has authorized our agency to implement changes that are improving our ability to process claims and help our citizens," Commissioner Mayfield said.
Under Governor Rell's direction the DOL is expediting claims by taking the following steps:
* Extending call center hours from 7:45 a.m. to 6 p.m.
* Opening an Emergency Resource Center with staff dedicated to answering questions on the federal extension
* Increasing staff by temporarily hiring 15 DOL retirees with experience in claims processing; using DOL volunteers on a temporary basis to process claims; and training 20 temporary workers
Commissioner Mayfield advises residents to wait for their letters of notification to arrive before calling the agency. She also said that claims will be processed faster if individuals file using the DOL's Web site at <> rather than mailing back the application being sent with the notification letter.
Residents with questions about the federal extension can also call a toll-free number: 1-877-522-6711, which is staffed from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Blogger Mberenis said...

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December 14, 2008 at 9:26 PM 

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