Washington jobless claimants will be notified automatically about newly extended federal jobless benefits

Now that Congress has approved another extension to federal jobless benefits, officials with the Washington State Employment Security Department are urging claimants to not call the claims center to inquire about their eligibility.

Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee said it will take the department some time to recode the benefits computer system for the new extension and determine each claimant’s status.

In about a week, the department will mail information to everyone who is potentially eligible.

For now, people who already have an active claim should continue to file their weekly claims as they usually do.

“We won’t be able to answer questions about an individual’s status until after the computer work has been completed,” said Lee. “To avoid clogging up our phone lines, we ask people to watch their mail.”

Fortunately, very few people in Washington have run out of benefits due to the lapse in the emergency unemployment benefits (EUC) program seven weeks ago. Most claimants who used up their regular benefits or their existing tier of EUC benefits during that time period still had up to 20 weeks of “extended benefits” available to them.

In June, more than a quarter-million people received unemployment benefits in Washington state. This included about 130,000 receiving regular benefits; about 112,000 who received emergency unemployment compensation that they’d qualified for before the program expired in early June; and 17,000 who received extended benefits.

So far, more than 14,000 people have used up all of the benefits available to them. These individuals will not benefit from the new federal extension since it does not increase the total weeks of benefits available.

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