By Walter F. Roche Jr., The Tennessean
A scheduled cut in payments for Tennesseans collecting unemployment benefits has been delayed indefinitely, after state officials were warned the action could trigger a loss of federal funding for other benefits.
Jeff Hentschel, a spokesman for the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, confirmed late Monday that the scheduled eliminations of dependent allowances of up to $50 a week did not go into effect as planned.
"The department is seeking guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor regarding the removal of dependent benefits," Hentschel said in an email response to questions. "The benefits will stay in place until a decision has been made."
He said federal officials at first told the state the dependent benefits, which are state-funded, could be eliminated, but just last week reversed that decision and warned the cut could trigger a cutoff of some federally funded benefits.
He said federal labor officials indicated last week the state would have to continue the dependent benefits until the end of the calendar year. He said the state was now awaiting further clarification.
Under the program, those collecting unemployment can receive an additional $15 per child up to a $50 maximum each week.
The state legislature had voted to end the benefit as of July 1 at the urging of the state labor agency. The state had issued an advisory just two weeks ago stating that the cut would be effective July 1.