When assessing what programs are available to individuals or families who are facing a protracted period of unemployment, the individual or families in question should first verify that they are no longer eligible for continued unemployment compensation. Because the unemployment situation in the United States has remained troublesome for the past several years, Congress has repeatedly extended the period of time for which the unemployed can receive benefits. Most recently, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program was extended through the end of the 2013 as part of the “American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.” Consequently, it is possible that individuals previously recorded as having exhausted their unemployment benefits may still be eligible for additional compensation.
Even with extensions for unemployment compensation, however, eventually such benefits do expire. It is incumbent upon individuals in need, therefore, to pursue through state and federal agencies benefits through programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides what historically have been called “food stamps” to those in need. This federal program is administered by the states, so one would need to approach the appropriate state agency to inquire as to one’s eligibility. Similarly, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which replaced the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children program under the terms of the 1996 welfare reform bill that was signed into law by then-President Clinton. Again, individuals in need should contact their state Department of Human Services or Health and Welfare agency (the exact agency title can change from state to state).
With the difficulties that many Americans have endured since the 2008 economic crisis, hundreds of thousands of families have been forced to apply for welfare benefits, and many have faced the problem of expiring unemployment benefits without having secured a new job. In such cases, soliciting the assistance of state agencies in applying for benefits should be the next step.