MONTPELIER Governor Jim Douglas has signed an agreement with the US Department of Labor that allows unemployed workers to receive extended benefits while looking for work. The Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) Program provides up to 13 weeks of additional benefits. The program was included in the supplemental budget signed by President Bush on Monday. Governor Douglas said he signed the agreement quickly to ensure a fast implementation of the program. Vermont is fighting back against rising fuel costs and the national economic slowdown on many fronts. We are going to continue to make strengthening our economy, removing barriers to job creation and making Vermont more prosperous the top priorities of this administration, Governor Douglas said. This program is a welcome addition to the essential safety net we provide Vermonters who need a hand up as they pursue new employment opportunities. Eligibility EUC benefits will be available to individuals who have exhausted all regular unemployment benefits. Qualifying individuals will continue to be eligible for an additional 13 weeks provided they do not become eligible for regular unemployment benefits. In addition to having exhausted benefits, a worker must have worked 20 weeks in full-time covered employment or earned the equivalent in covered wages to qualify for extended benefits. Individuals found eligible for the EUC benefits will be paid the same weekly benefit amount as previously paid under the Regular Unemployment program. Emergency unemployment compensation payments will cease on June 30, 2009. How to apply Beginning Monday, July 7, 2008, the Unemployment Insurance & Wages Division will send notices to potentially eligible workers arranging times to contact the unemployment claim center. Between 200 and 500 individuals exhaust regular benefits each month. We think there are currently about 4000 individuals who may be eligible. This is excellent assistance for Vermonters who may need to take additional time to find new work, said Commissioner of Labor Patricia Moulton Powden. Individuals who establish eligibility and certify they are unemployed for the week ending July 12th should receive their first benefit check on or before July 18th. Financing The benefit and administrative costs of the EUC program will not be funded directly by Vermont employers. Funds have been appropriated from the Federal Unemployment Trust Fund, which receives funding from a tax on employers, the Federal Unemployment Tax.