[jsfg_cinti] Important Items in the new Economic Stimulus Bill

Hi,
I received an e-mail from an individual that was able to glean a few
items about the recently signed Economic Stimulus Package Bill that will
be very important to those of us that are currently unemployed. Please
note that I personally do not have any additional knowledge about the
information below ... I am merely forwarding what I feel is information
that is important for JSFG Members.

I believe that the most important aspect of this bill is the COBRA
subsidy. I have already contacted my former employer about this to get
the ball rolling and I suggest that any of you that are eligible for the
subsidy do likewise.

Please do not contact me for further information as I will not be able
to answer any of your questions. However, I will be happy to forward any
new information as I receive it.

Good luck in your job search.

Regards,
 
Peter Landesman
 
    PLA     
Peter Landesman Associates
8307 Coppernail Way
West Chester, OH 45069
 
513-368-0250
pla@xxxxxxxx
 <http://www.linkedin.com/in/peterlandesman>
http://www.linkedin.com/in/peterlandesman

Although the bill is aimed at aiding the faltering economy, it does
contain several provisions affecting the workplace. Key HR provisions
include:

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) Continuation of
Coverage:

· COBRA Subsidy - Eligible workers will receive a 65 percent subsidy
toward their health care coverage premium for up to 9 months. The
Treasury Department will administer the subsidy, providing employers or
health plans, if they administer COBRA benefits, to receive a credit
against payroll taxes for the cost of the subsidy. The subsidy would
terminate upon offer of any new employer-sponsored health care coverage
or Medicare eligibility.

· Employee Eligibility - Individuals who have been involuntarily
terminated between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009 with annual
incomes less than $125,000 (single) or $250,000 (couples) are eligible
for the COBRA premium assistance, along with their family. Qualified
individuals, who initially decline COBRA coverage, would be given an
additional 60 days after they receive notice of the special election
period to elect to receive the subsidy. The election period begins on
the date of enactment of the ARRA.

· Special Enrollment - The bill allows group health plans to provide a
special enrollment right to allow eligible individuals to elect
different coverage under the plan in electing COBRA continuation
coverage.

· Notice Requirements - COBRA notices must include information on the
availability of the premium assistance. Model notices from the
Department of Labor are due 30 days after enactment.

· Effective Date - These provisions are effective for premiums the first
calendar month following the date of enactment.

§ Health Information Technology: The ARRA also includes $19 billion to
accelerate the adoption and use of health information technology (IT) by
doctors and hospitals. The bill establishes a process led by the federal
government to develop standards by 2010 that allow for the secure
nationwide electronic exchange of health information. The bill also
expands current federal privacy and security protections for health
information.

§ Making Work Pay Credit: The ARRA creates a refundable tax credit of up
to $400 per person, $800 per couple during 2009 and 2010, This tax
credit is calculated at a rate of 6.2% of earned income, and would phase
out for taxpayers with adjusted gross income in excess of $150,000 for
couples filing jointly and $75,000 for single filers. Taxpayers will
receive this benefit through a reduction in the amount of income tax
that is withheld from their paychecks, or through claiming the credit on
their tax returns.

Unemployment Compensation:

· Extension of Benefits: This provision would extend the time period in
which workers are able to collect their unemployment benefits. The
recently enacted Unemployment Compensation Act of 2008 (Public Law
110-449) http://www.thomas.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:HR06867:@@@L
<http://www.thomas.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:HR06867:@@@L&summ2=m&;>
&summ2=m& created a temporary emergency unemployment compensation
program. As opposed to the original program termination date of March
31, 2009, the ARRA would terminate the Emergency Unemployment
Compensation program on December 31, 2009. Under this proposal no
compensation under the program would be payable after May 31, 2010. The
benefits and administration costs would be funded through the general
fund of the Treasury rather than the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA)
surtax.

· Expansion of Benefits: An increase of $25 per weekly benefit wouldbe
available to all individuals receiving regular unemployment benefits,
extended benefits or emergency unemployment benefits. The $25 additional
weekly benefits would be available in states that enter into an
agreement with the Labor Secretary.

· Modernizations: This provision would provide $7 Billion in funding to
states to improve the administration of their unemployment compensation
systems. The incentive and administrative payments are paid from the UI
trust fund and through an extension of the existing FUTA surtax, paid by
employers. To receive one-third of its allotted funds, a state must
adopt an "alternative base period" allowing workers to meet eligibility
requirements by counting their most recent wages. Additionally, states
would have to meet two out of the six requirements below to access
funds:

o Family Related Needs: Would provide UI compensation for workers who
have voluntarily left their jobs due to illness or disability of an
immediate family member, the relocation of a spouse for employment or
domestic violence. Currently, a worker is only eligible for UI
compensation if they have lost their jobs through no fault of their own
and must be able, available, and actively seeking work. This provision
creates a new entitlement to unemployment compensation for individuals
who limit their work search and availability for work and separate
themselves from employment for the illness or disability of a member of
their immediate family (as defined by the Secretary of Labor)

o Job training: Provide training benefits to unemployed workers laid off
from a "declining" occupation who are enrolled in a state-approved
training program for entry into a high-demand occupation

o Part-time work: Provide unemployment compensation benefits to
individuals seeking part-time work

o Uniform 26 weeks: Raise maximum compensation caps so that all
long-term unemployed workers can receive a full 26 weeks of benefits

o Child Assistance: Pay unemployed workers at least an extra $15 per
week for each of the worker's dependents

§ Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC): The work opportunity tax credit is
currently available on an elective basis for employers hiring
individuals from one or more of nine targeted groups. The amount of the
credit available to an employer is determined by the amount of qualified
wages paid by the employer. The ARRA expands the WOTC by creating two
new categories of individuals eligible for the credit: unemployed
veterans and disconnected youth who begin work for the employer in 2009
or 2010. The proposal is effective for individuals who begin work for an
employer after December 31, 2008.

§ Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA): Extends TAA benefits for two years
for employees who lose their jobs through increased imports or
offshoring to certain foreign countries.

§ Executive Compensation: Would limit compensation for the highest paid
individuals at companies who receive assistance from the Troubled Asset
Relief Program (TARP)
http://www.federalreserve.gov/bankinforeg/tarpinfo.htm. The bill
includes a sliding scale of restrictions placed upon the highest earners
dependent upon the amount of relief a company receives. The limits would
only apply to employees that are required to register with the
Securities and Exchange Commission and would restrict the size of a
bonus, which can be no more than a third of the total annual
compensation an executive receives. Additionally, the ABBA would ban
"golden parachutes" to departing executives, and bonuses must be paid
back to the Treasury under certain circumstances. Limits are also placed
on "excessive expenditures" including entertainment, the use of
corporate jets and office renovations. Lastly, it would require that
TARP recipients hold an annual shareholder vote on approval of executive
compensation.

§ H-1B visas: Prohibits organizations that receive funds under the TARP
or certain federal loans from obtaining H-1B visas for two years unless
they have taken good faith steps to recruit U.S. workers for the job in
which the H-1B is sought. TARP beneficiaries would be required to offer
the job to any equally or better qualified U.S. workers who have
applied.


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