Unemployed may stop getting checks

Job seekers stand in line at an unemployment office.

November 21, 2009 5:46:00 AM PST
About 43,000 people who have been receiving unemployment checks may soon stop getting them, even though they still qualify for the money.Earlier this month, Congress approved another extension of unemployment benefits.

But the state agency which disperses the money says the new eligibility rules are complex and it could take up to six weeks to re-program state computers.

"The six week lag time is related to the time it would take to apply the rules that we learned about just this week," said Moses Carey with the North Carolina Employment Security Commission.

Some people eligible for the money have asked if the state is fumbling the process.

"That's not the case," Carey said. "We know what we need to do. We just received instructions for what we need to do this week."

Expert observers of the unemployment system says the NC ESC has a good track record, but federal money for computer upgrades in years past have not come through.

"They're trying to make up for a decade of administrative disinvestment and handle a major crisis all essentially in a six-month period," Carey said.

Some collecting unemployment now says they cannot afford to wait weeks.

Former office supply salesman Paul Carlton says he has gone from great times to now, where he's surviving on an unemployment check of $439 a week.

Carlton says if he had to go six weeks without benefits it would probably mean he would lose his vehicle.

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