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Some Unemployed Oklahomans Face Obstacles With Benefit Extension

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The state says the extension means those who are currently getting a second round of benefits will get an extra week, bringing the total to 14 weeks. The state says the extension means those who are currently getting a second round of benefits will get an extra week, bringing the total to 14 weeks.
Robert Stewart got a letter in the mail telling him about his extra week of tier two benefits. "It helps. Every penny helps," said Robert Stewart. Robert Stewart got a letter in the mail telling him about his extra week of tier two benefits. "It helps. Every penny helps," said Robert Stewart.

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

UNDATED -- Oklahoma's unemployment is the worst it has been in 20 years. One in 14 Oklahomans is out of work, but we're still doing better than the national average.

On the positive side, the state added 8,800 new jobs in October, but many of those positions won't be filled immediately because some businesses aren't financially strong enough to start hiring yet.

Congress passed a law to give those searching for work a little extra help, but instead of alleviating financial worries some folks say it's causing more stress.

When Robert Stewart was laid off last November, he says he had no idea he would still be out of work a year later.

"You can find a job, but not a job so much that will help you make a living," said Robert Stewart.

Stewart is trying to get by on unemployment benefits, but time was running out. The president signed an extension, but some folks say they're getting the runaround.

The state says the extension means those who are currently getting a second round of benefits will get an extra week, bringing the total to 14 weeks. 

Those who have already run out of tier two benefits also get an extra week. They just need to re-open their claim. After that, they can apply for new tier three benefits for another 13 weeks.

The problem is when you go online there's a tab to file for tier two, but no button to extend tier two and there's no information at all on tier three. The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission reports they're working on it.

Robert Stewart got a letter in the mail telling him about his extra week of tier two benefits.

"It helps. Every penny helps," said Robert Stewart.

And he's hoping he won't need another extension.

"I've checked a couple of staffing places and they're saying it's picking up a little bit. Hopefully, they're right and it is picking up. Maybe next week or two, I'll get something," said Robert Stewart.

Right now all you can do is wait. The employment security commission hopes to have the system up and running to reapply for tier two by early next month and tier three soon after that.

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