Snafu over Unemployment Benefit Claims Could Be a Huge Problem for Those on North Carolina Workers’ Compensation

December 23, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

According to a December 19 article in the Herald Sun, around 200,000 unemployed North Carolina workers could see their benefits ended unless the US Congress re-ups its Emergency Unemployment Compensation program (part of a nearly $800 billion package entitled the American Reinvestment & Recovery Act).

While jobless employees can still collect North Carolina workers’ compensation, this funding shortfall could further destabilize the state’s already stagnant economy. The Byzantine nature of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program does not seem to be helping matters, either. Consider:

The initial program was to be funded equally by the federal government and the state government. Now, due to technicalities regarding the EUC, it’s funded 100 percent by the federal government. A spokesperson for a consultancy based out of Chapel Hill noted that one of the biggest problems is the so-called trigger system. Filers are sorted into one of four tiers. Once you exhaust the weeks of benefits within your tier, you can apply to file under a different tier. All this bureaucracy appears to jam the system and make filing vastly more complicated.

Adding to the headache is North Carolina’s rate of unemployment, which tipped double digits in the fall and now stands at around 11 percent (although the Research Triangle has a slightly lower rate).

So what’s the bottom line in terms of North Carolina workers’ compensation policy? First of all, the impacts of the 2007-2008 Recession will surely reverberate into 2010 and beyond. Second, according to the North Carolina Employment Security Commission’s Deputy Chairman, if the US Congress fails to extend unemployment benefits, the ramifications for workers on unemployment and workers’ comp could be devastating. Third of all, the disappointing numbers might inspire more innovative policy approaches. Think tanks and policy groups are already coordinating about how to rejigger the system to keep unemployed, underemployed and disabled workers financially afloat as the state economy stabilizes.

If you’re worried about unemployment or workers’ comp benefits running out due to the vagaries of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, it may behoove you to connect ASAP with a qualified and experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney.

More Web Resources:

Added jobless benefits program set to expire

North Carolina record unemployment rate


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