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Unemployment benefits are ending sooner than expected for nearly half a million Americans, a result of actions by Congress and by state lawmakers across the country.
Congress in February renewed an extension of federal unemployment benefits, which supplement state funds for the unemployed, until the end of 2012. But the renewal also cut back the duration of federal aid, and made it more difficult for states to get the maximum amount of aid, The New York Times reports.
As a result, 23 states have lost as much as five months' worth of federal unemployment benefits, according to The Times. About 70,000 jobless will get their final unemployment checks in June, according to the National Employment Law Project.
That would bring the total number of unemployed whose benefits were cut early this year to about 500,000, the NELP estimates.
The cutbacks are partly dictated by a formula that automatically slashes federal benefits when a state's unemployment rate drops. In Michigan, for example, improving jobless numbers mean as many as 12,000 people will stop getting unemployment checks June 23, The Detroit News reports.
In addition, Michigan lawmakers have cut state unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 20. Lawmakers in other states, including Florida and Georgia, have followed suit, according to The News.
The bottom line: Under these new formulas and rules, many long-term unemployed may have little recourse to continue to receive unemployment benefits.
But if you feel your unemployment benefits are being unfairly cut short, or if you recently applied for jobless benefits and face an unemployment insurance hearing, you may want to consult a local employment lawyer. An attorney will know about unemployment laws in your state and will be able to help you get the best results possible.