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Stimulus Act Benefits for the Unemployed

Stimulus Act Benefits for the Unemployed

Margot Carmichael Lester, Monster Contributing Writer

Part-Time Work

Nationally, 8.6 million workers reported working less than full-time for economic reasons, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet prior to the ARRA’s passage, unemployed workers in 28 states who were looking for part-time work were not eligible for unemployment benefits.

“Under the Act, states qualify for federal dollars if they modernize their unemployment compensation systems, and one of the ways to qualify is to make workers looking for part-time work eligible for benefits,” explains Beth Shulman, senior analyst for the Russell Sage Foundation and author of The Betrayal of Work: How Low-Wage Jobs Fail 30 Million Americans. “Many [states] are reforming their part-time eligibility requirements.”

A Tax Break

The Act also creates a tax break for unemployed workers, exempting the first $2,400 of their 2009 unemployment benefits from taxation. Previously, the entire amount received could be taxed.

“This may not seem like a lot, but if a person is receiving unemployment benefits for a short period of time, this will result not only in a financial boost at the time he or she receives the benefits, but at tax time as well,” says Tim Davis, an attorney with The Lawrence Firm LSC in Covington, Kentucky. “Even if a person receives unemployment benefits for a long duration, this still puts more money into their pockets, because the first part of his or her benefits is tax-free.”

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