Arkansas Unemployment Insurance Extensions Explained

. Friday, July 23
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The news hit late yesterday. Congress passed and sent the bill to the president to restore Unemployment Insurance extensions. The bill was hung up in a political filibuster since the end of May, leaving many who, unable to find work, ran out of regular benefits and were left with no income whatsoever.

There has been, as a result of this long-awaited announcement, a mass of confusion. Some people, who exhausted all possible regular benefits and all the available extensions, mistakenly misunderstood that there were now additional extensions. The media has not been clear in reporting just what has come to be. In some cases, articles have reported the restoration of “up to 99 weeks of unemployment.” What the media did not report is all the variables that come into play to be eligible for that length of time. In the end, desperate, hopeful people went to their local unemployment offices only to leave more angry and frustrated than they already were with no income and little chance of finding a job.

In an effort to clear up some of the uncertainty, let me point out a few things that will help you understand what is going on.

The number of Unemployment Insurance extensions is based solely on each state’s unemployment rate. Arkansas’ unemployment rate is now at 7.5 percent.

The national unemployment rate is 9.5 percent. That number is the average unemployment rate of each of the 50 states. There are some states with a much higher rate of unemployment than Arkansas, and some at a lower rate. Depending on where those numbers fall is what determines the number of unemployment extensions available.

Arkansas has, at this time, three “Tiers” of extensions. Some states have only one extension, while others with high unemployment rates have 5 extensions. The availability of any of the federally funded unemployment extensions can change at any given moment. If a state’s unemployment rate changes, so do the number of extensions.

A person who has worked in Arkansas with a full, 26-week claim is eligible to receive the full amount of each of the 3 Tiers of the extensions. This works out to be 73 weeks of unemployment benefits. If a person was not eligible for a full, 26-week regular benefits claim, then that person would not be eligible for the full amounts of each extension Tier. A person is not eligible for an extension at all if he or she did not work 20 weeks in the base period of the claim.

In other words, each person drawing unemployment will receive a different amount each week and for a different number of weeks. Each person’s work history and how much they made go into the calculations. No two claims are alike.

Arkansas will begin paying out the restored extension benefits on July 26.

That is good news. The bad news is that it won’t happen all at once. It will take up to 7 days to get this ball rolling again. Be thankful that you live here in Arkansas because there are some states that anticipate taking 6 weeks to get everyone caught up!

Please, learn and spread accurate information.

There is nothing more frightening than losing a job. It is a threat that strikes at your core ability to take of yourself and your family. Unemployment insurance eases some of that mountain of stress by providing enough of an income to tide you over while looking for another job. Nowadays, it’s difficult to find a job, so running out of unemployment too is an even bigger stress. That incredible amount of stress makes it difficult to keep your head straight, so to speak, when you need your faculties about you the most.

So, if you or someone you know is unemployed and subsisting on just unemployment insurance, learn what is really available to you in your area. Go to your local Arkansas Department of Workforce Services office and get to know all the facts.

What economic recovery?

. Saturday, July 17


On the Senate’s table is a bill to create a $30 billion fund to boost lending, distributed to community banks as incentives to extend loans to small businesses that create two out of every three jobs. On that same table is another issue already blocked from a “yea or nay” vote by a Republican filibuster three times is the bill to restore unemployment extensions to the 2.1 million people who have exhausted their regular benefits claim but have yet to find work.

“The fact is, most economists agree that extending unemployment insurance is one of the single most cost-effective ways to help jumpstart the economy," he said. "It puts money into the pockets of folks who not only need it most, but who also are most likely to spend it quickly.  That boosts local economies.  And that means jobs,” said Obama as he railed against the country’s leadership that is holding out against continuing economic stimulus. Their argument, he said, is that it would increase the national debt with the money borrowed, yet these same leaders didn’t hesitate an instant to fork over billions to bail out the financial sector.

“I haven’t met any Americans who would rather have an unemployment check than a meaningful job that lets you provide for your family,” Obama said to those that insist unemployment insurance discourages the jobless from looking for work.

The reality is finally coming to light, and the numbers are staggering. With roughly 10 percent of the population struggling with no income and little hope of gainful employment, the future of the country itself is tottering on the brink of disaster as the economy continues its downward spiral.

In October, it will be worse as millions more exhaust their unemployment claims. Next year, it will be exponentially worse as few will have enough wages on file to even qualify for unemployment benefits.

An even harsher reality points to the possibility that both proposed legislative bills are no more than the usual band-aid on a gaping wound. That gaping wound started this whole mess to begin with, and the culprit is the financial sector itself. Banks and investment companies are back on solid ground and are staying there at the expense of everything and everyone else. The money goes it, but it never comes back out.

All it would take to bring the whole thing tumbling completely down is another spike in the pump price of gasoline. What will be left standing in the ashes of ruin will be gas and insurance companies.

Is it too late to plant a garden?

Lose a drinking bet, be set on fire

. Sunday, July 11



One man made national news today after losing a drinking bet with his buddies, though his name is absent from the accounts and will not enjoy his notoriety.

A New Mexico man was found naked and on fire along Rt 70 on Monday. He told police that he lost a drinking bet with his friends, that whoever drank the least would be set on fire and agreed to let those friends set him on fire when he managed to only drink a 6-pack of beer.

The friends lit up this man’s prosthetic leg. The flames started to burn the man’s buttocks, so they loaded him into a truck to take him to the hospital. But, before they got there, the friends freaked and left him burning on the side of the road.

At this point, dear Sir, I question the kind of friends you keep and the idiocy of taking part in a bet with those friends who think nothing of setting you on fire. Is it time to rethink a few things?

Husband and twin sister keep Jean Stevens company, even after death

. Monday, July 5

Jean Stevens holding a photo of her and her husband, Jimmy.

The story begins on June 15 when state police, warrant in hand, searched the home of Jean Stevens, 91, on Old Stagecoach Road in Wyalusing, Penn. Two social workers from the Area Agency on Aging called in the tip when Stevens showed her the body of her twin sister.

The search of the home and the detached garage resulted in the discovery of two bodies: Jimmy Stevens, who died May 21, 1999 and was buried in a local cemetery, and June Stevens, Jean’s twin sister who died Oct. 3, 2009 and was buried on the family property, Jean’s back yard.

During a press release on June 17, it was shown that the requested warrant was based on three state crime codes - institutional vandalism, desecration of venerated objects and abuse of a corpse.

On June 19, the investigation led the police to dig up the graves of Stevens’ husband and twin sister. They found empty coffins and came to believe that Stevens asked someone to dig up the bodies for her within days of burial.

Bradford County, Pennsylvania District Attorney Dan Barrett stated on July 1 that the most serious charges to file in the case are citations for health code violations, the only applicable crime involved.

“The 91-year-old widow lived by herself in a tumbledown house on a desolate country road,” writes AP’s Michael Rubinkham. “But she wasn't alone, not really, not as long as she could visit her husband and twin sister. No matter they were already dead.”

While some of the headlines paint a macabre picture of Jean Stevens by using words such as “mummified remains” and “bizarre case,” Rubinkham instead found a pleasant, open woman who is ambivalent about the existence of God, is profoundly claustrophobic and extremely afraid of death. It is for this reason that authorities rationalize the reason Stevens kept her husband and twin sister near; there is nothing after death, it is just the end. As her near-century story goes, she and her twin married brothers and were extremely close throughout their lives.

"I'd go in, and I'd talk, and I'd forget," Stevens said, talking about her sister and husband. "I put glasses on her. When I put the glasses on, it made all the difference in the world. I would fix her up. I'd fix her face up all the time. …I could see him, I could look at him, I could touch him. Now, some people have a terrible feeling, they say, 'Why do you want to look at a dead person? Oh my gracious. Well, I felt differently about death."

This week, when the investigation wraps up and police confer with the district attorney, the identity of the person suspected of exhuming the bodies of the husband and sister will be revealed.

UPDATE: July 6
Pa. woman may keep corpses if she builds crypt

A 91-year-old woman found living with the corpses of her husband and twin sister will be allowed to keep them if she installs a mausoleum or crypt, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Jean Stevens has indicated through her attorney that she plans to build an aboveground vault on her property to store the bodies of James Stevens and June Stevens, according to Bradford County District Attorney Daniel Barrett.

"If she does that, the bodies will be released for that purpose," he said. "Otherwise they will be re-interred." Associated Press