Job Benefits: They May Be Changing in 2010

There are a few possible job benefit changes that may come up in 2010 that are getting a lot of attention. The many rumors on this subject in the media are also producing a lot of non-information, semi-informed opinions and a very confusing lack of hard facts.

The situation at the start of 2010 is that the federal COBRA payments are being extended for up to 73 weeks for all persons that are eligible. Those eligible for payments will automatically be paid. All 50 states are doing some sort of work on their unemployment insurance and the related revenue issues and regional issues are complicating the state based changes. Some unemployment issues are being assessed at county level in severely depressed areas.

State Amendments

The large number of state amendments has not helped to clarify issues, particularly for the unemployed. Some states are looking at significant overhauls to taxation, including Florida, where employers are waiting for a decision on increased taxes which will hit their bottom line. The tax issue has some ramifications. The concern is that increased taxes will add to the unemployment lines as employers try to rationalize costs. The problem is that the states, although well aware of the issues, also have serious revenue issues which have to be factored in.

Some states, like Michigan and a few Southern states are experiencing very difficult economic situations. The revenue situation also applies to some of the big states like California, where regional unemployment and large numbers of people receiving benefits are adding a lot of weight to the existing revenue problems. 

Department of Labor

The Department of Labor is one of the most reliable, neutral, information bases to refer to. Some information in the media directly contradicts other information. Don’t listen to rumors of any kind. The information which doesn’t cite official, or firsthand sources, is of particularly dubious quality. The negative information being provided is apparently largely speculative and/or selective.  Check the Department of Labor’s website for answers to eligibility questions.

Where to Get More Information

Check your state’s website for issues and information. State websites will have information about all benefit changes and proposed changes. If your state will have a tax increase, the increase may have a long term effect on employment issues. However, the changes may not affect eligibility requirements. Every state is drawing up their own amendments, so be sure to check yours.

You can also check your eligibility for COBRA directly, based on your dates of eligibility. Do not rely on the media, or any other source of information to give you details. Review the facts yourself. Call the number provided to you from your old employer and ask the customer service representative about new changes rolling out.