ATLANTA -- With Georgia's unemployment rate at 9 percent, which is above the national average, the need for unemployment benefits is just as great as it has ever been.
For many of the almost 500,000 out-of-work Georgians who are actively seeking jobs or new career opportunities, unemployment benefits are their only lifeline.
Those who are currently receiving unemployment benefits are allowed to be on the state's payroll for 26 weeks; however, those who desire to sign up after July 1 will notice that they are only allowed to receive benefits for 20 weeks.
And if unemployment numbers decrease to 6.5 percent, the government will reduce the duration of benefits to only 14 weeks.
Georgia has already cut back their weekly benefits to pay the federal government the $760 million it borrowed to pay state benefits.
When state benefits run out after 20 weeks, the federal government picks up the tab for another year.
"After that period federal extended benefits would kick in, no interruption of service. Just come in and apply for the federal extended benefits and it will be the same amount as they were getting on State benefits," said Georgia's labor commissioner, Mark Butler.
"But people just don't do their research and just think you can come in here and just get money and it lasts for a certain amount of time and don't really care to find out how long, how much or what the percentage they actually get," said Drew Payton, who is now receiving unemployment.
To make sure you will transition from state to the federal benefits, visit a Georgia Department of Labor Career Center
and make sure you are signed up.