CARSON CITY — The 26,893 Nevadans who have exhausted all state and federal unemployment benefits wouldn’t be getting any additional assistance through the agreement between President Barack Obama and Republicans in Congress to extend benefits for another 13 months.
Cindy Jones, the state Employment Security Division administrator, said Tuesday that major media outlets across the country have incorrectly reported that benefits for everyone, including those who have exhausted their benefits, would be extended by the deal. She said the agreement does not add a new tier 5 of benefits for people who have received unemployment benefits for the maximum 99 weeks.
"The 99ers won’t receive anything more," Jones said. The agreement does make sure people who have not reached the 99-week maximum can continue to receive their checks until they reach that total, she said.
For example, someone who has received benefits for 56 weeks would continue to be paid benefits for 43 more weeks.
The agreement on unemployment benefits was part of the deal to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for everyone for two more years.
Tom Brede, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Jones is correct.
Brede said a bill sought by Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and others would have extended benefits for those who had exhausted all benefits, but that was not part of the "framework the president reached with Republicans."
That framework has not been introduced yet as a bill.
"Senator Reid said we have some work yet to do on it," said Brede, who emphasized that Reid has not decided whether he wants to try to extend benefits past 99 weeks.
Berkley did not sound hopeful about the agreement being expanded to extend benefits to those who have received them for 99 weeks. "This is a problem, there is no doubt about it," she said. "But if I am able to extend unemployment benefits another year for a vast majority of people in my district that are unemployed, I will take that and will live to fight another day and I certainly will."
Unemployed people can receive as much as 26 weeks of state unemployment benefits. If they exhaust those benefits, they can receive a 20-week state benefit extension that is paid entirely by the federal government.
On top of these 46 weeks of benefits, the federal government has been providing various extensions, or tiers, of benefits that total 53 weeks.
Stephens Washington Bureau chief Steve Tetreault contributed to this report. Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3901.