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Unemployment checks going up
Stimulus providing an extra $25 a week to jobless
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ATLANTA - State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said today that the Georgia Department of Labor has begun mailing an additional $25 per week to more than 180,000 jobless Georgians who have a valid unemployment insurance claim with the Georgia Department of Labor.

"The weekly supplement to unemployment insurance benefits comes at a good time," said Commissioner Thurmond. "This recession is expected to last longer than many economists and the Federal Reserve initially projected. The additional $25 each week will help the many thousands of Georgians who've lost their jobs through no fault of their own better weather this economic downturn."

The action is the result of an agreement signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue and Commissioner Thurmond to allow unemployed Georgians to receive the additional funds in federal unemployment insurance benefits. Unemployment insurance recipients are eligible for the additional benefits beginning the week ending Feb. 28, 2009. And, more than 180,000 payments were released the week ending March 7, 2009.

The additional benefits, paid from a U.S. Department of Labor trust fund, are provided through a program called Temporary Federal Additional Compensation (FAC). In order to qualify for the added benefits, claimants must be receiving benefits on a valid claim filed with the state's Regular Unemployment Insurance Program, Extended Unemployment Compensation, or Trade Readjustment Assistance. The additional benefit will be a separate weekly payment of $25.

In addition to those now receiving unemployment insurance benefits, others eligible for the FAC program include those who file a valid claim before Jan. 1, 2010. The FAC program ends July 3, 2010. The new law changes the exhaust date for extended unemployment compensation from March 31, 2009, to Dec. 31, 2009, and the payment phase-out date from Aug. 29, 2009 to May 29, 2010.

Also, under the new law, federal income tax will be temporarily suspended on the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits paid to each claimant.

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