Unemployment Checks Resume For Some Jobless While Others Go Without For Holidays

Dec 21, 2010 | Updated May 25, 2011

Ken Watson said the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services notified him Sunday that on Monday he'd receive the unemployment checks Congress kept from him with its dithering the past two weeks.

"I didn't know what they were gonna do," said Watson, a 46-year-old laid-off IT contractor with five kids in Batavia, Ohio. "I didn't really count on it coming back."

More than a million people relying on federally-funded extended unemployment benefits had their checks interrupted after Congress allowed the benefits to lapse at the end of November, according to the National Employment Law Project. The federal benefits, which in some states give 73 weeks of aid to people who exhaust 26 weeks state benefits, were reauthorized last week after President Obama cut a deal with Republicans to attach continued help for the jobless to a reauthorization of tax cuts for the rich.

When he signed the bill on Friday, Obama said the unemployed were in luck because "states can move quickly to reinstate their benefits -- and we expect that in almost all states, they'll get them in time for Christmas."

Rich Hobbie, director of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies, told HuffPost that some long-term jobless will not receive missed payments until next year. Most will be paid in the next two weeks.

"The bottom line is many states will have payments out by December 25," Hobbie said. "Some states already have payments out. And there are a minority of states whose benefit payments will spill over into January."

George Wentworth of the National Employment Law Project told HuffPost that the people most likely to be left hanging until January are the folks whose 26 weeks of state benefits expired before they could start the first "tier" of federally-funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation. "The vast majority of states are paying this week and next," he added.

HuffPost readers: Left hanging until next week or longer? Tell us about it -- email arthur@huffingtonpost.com. Please include your phone number if you're willing to do an interview.

Watson told HuffPost earlier this month he was "shocked" to discover that his $300 weekly lifeline, which he'd expected to last until January, prematurely stopped on Dec. 4. He said his wife was still working part-time and that his family's Christmas wouldn't be spoiled by the unemployment cutoff, but he worried his youngest might not understand.

"My two younger kids I really have to worry about because they believe in Santa Claus," he said.

He praised the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services for a smooth handling of the lapse in federal benefits. He did not praise the U.S. Congress, calling it "dirty politics" to leave the unemployed hanging to win tax cuts for the rich.

"That was crazy," he said. "That was totally uncalled for."