New unemployment benefits bill expected to help thousands of Kentuckians

Gary Wise
Gary Wise
Laura Metcalf
Laura Metcalf
Callie Miller
Callie Miller

By Caton Bredar - bio  | email
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Last week, President Barack Obama signed the latest Emergency Unemployment Compensation extension into law. The legislation brings months of extended benefits to thousands of Kentucky's unemployed. We investigated what the benefits may mean to some local residents.

With nearly 10,000 unemployed Kentuckians having already exhausted up to 79 weeks of unemployment compensation, the extension of up to 19 more weeks can't come soon enough. Gary Wise, operations administrator for the Office of Employment and Training, explains the extension will come in two phases - Tier 3 will extend benefits up to 13 weeks, and Tier 4 extends benefits for another six weeks more potentially. Wise said eligible recipients will receive notice in the mail detailing their benefits and procedures for how to file.

"There will be a lot of folks coming in," said Wise. "We've already had a lot of inquiries as to when they can start filing, and unfortunately, all we can tell people is please be patient and wait until you get your letter."

Anyone who has moved since last collecting unemployment should contact the nearest Employment and Training office to update his or her information. According to Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet officials, letters may already be in the mail, and claims could begin to get filed within two to three weeks. While those who have exhausted their benefits will be the first in line, Kentuckians who are currently receiving unemployment may also be eligible for the extension.

Laura Metcalf of Okolona doesn't know if she'll be eligible for any more extensions but says she's been collecting unemployment for nearly a year. Metcalf was laid off from one part-time job, and after nine years had her hours reduced at her once full-time place of employment.

"I've had to move in with my son," Metcalf said. "Never thought that would be happening to me. It's just totally turned my world upside down."

It's a similar situation for 47-year-old Callie Miller. A single mother of two, Miller has been without a job for nearly a year.

"I've never drawn unemployment in my life," Miller said. "So, it is rough if you're used to working and used to maintaining. I've put my grown kids through school."

A student herself now at Jefferson Community and Technical College, Miller is majoring in humanities and psychology and hopes one day to open a Kindercare for seniors.

"I got a B on my mid-term, so it's going real good," said Miller. "I'm proud of myself."

Still, the hard times are never completely out of sight. Miller said the possibility that she might be eligible for extended unemployment benefits could make a bid difference in her life and in the life of her family. Still, like Metcalf, the thing she'd like most would be a job.

"If anyone needs me," Miller said, "I clean houses, cook, care for old people. I do it all."

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