LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Nearly 5,000 Kentuckians who have been out of work for at least six months will lose unemployment payments under a federal program called Extended Benefits starting next week, Gov. Andy Beshear’s Labor Cabinet said in a press release Tuesday.
The Extended Benefits program provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits on top of the state’s regular 26 weeks of benefits.
The state said 4,723 unemployment claimants will immediately lose payments because Extended Benefits expires.
But the impact is more extensive because the program also won’t be available to people who exhaust regular state benefits in the coming weeks and months.
Federal rules dictate when Extended Benefits is in effect in each state based a ratio of unemployment claimants to the total population with jobs.
As of Nov. 28, Kentucky will no longer qualify for Extended Benefits and will be locked out of the program for at least 13 weeks, the state said in the release. That’s because the state’s “insured unemployment rate” – the number of people currently receiving unemployment insurance as a percentage of the labor force – fell below 5%.
“Kentucky families are struggling and hurting financially, but (Beshear) has no recourse to reverse the federal agency’s (U.S. Department of Labor) decision,” according to the news release.
Those who exhaust the state’s regular 26 weeks of benefits may still be able to qualify for more jobless aid, even without Extended Benefits.
It would involve filing a new claim under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which was Congress enacted in March as part of the CARES Act coronavirus relief bill.
Claimants who run out of state benefits could qualify for up to 13 additional weeks under PUA. But unlike regular benefits, PUA requires that people establish that their joblessness stems from COVID-19.
And, PUA expires at the end of the year unless Congress renews the program.