FAQ: Extended Benefits and Congress

Q: Which individuals are eligible for federal extended benefits?

A. Only individuals who have exhausted all rights to regular state unemployment compensation after May 1, 2007 are eligible for federal extended benefits.

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Q: By what date must an individual exhaust benefits in order to move on to the next tier of federal benefits?

A. Regular State Benefits: Claimants can establish initial eligibility for EUC (Tier 1) if they exhaust the 26 weeks of regular state benefits before the week ending November 20, 2010. In order to establish eligibility for federal EUC benefits, an individual must have no rights to regular compensation. In other words, a person must have exhausted regular state benefits and established eligibility by having a week of unemployment that would be EUC-payable in order to be EUC-eligible.. Emergency Unemployment Compensation: In order to move to the next tier of benefits, claimants must exhaust their current tier by the week ending November 27, 2010. If individuals exhaust their current tier after November 27, 2010, the individual cannot move on to the next tier of EUC benefits intil Congress has reauthorized the program past November 20, 2010.

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Q: Is it possible for an individual to collect state unemployment benefits, but not qualify for federal EUC benefits due to lack of wages?

A: Yes. In order to qualify for Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC Tiers 1-4), individuals must have employment of 20 weeks of work, or the equivalent in wages, in their base period.

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Q: How did the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010 impact on Federal Additional Compensation (FAC) funds?

A: That bill did not include an extension of the $25-a-week Federal Additional Compensation (FAC) funds. No new unemployment benefits claim effective on May 30, 2010 or later will have the additional $25 FAC entitlement attached to it. However, any claimant who had a new state UI benefit year established before May 30, 2010 can continue to collect FAC in conjunction with any benefits associated with that benefit year, whether it is state unemployment benefits, EUC or EB. Those FAC benefits can be collected until they are exhausted but not beyond the week ending December 11, 2010.

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Q: Does this extension of the filing deadline provide additional weeks of federal unemployment benefits on top of the total 99 weeks?

A: No, the EUC legislation enacted in July 2010 does not create additional weeks of benefits after the expiration of all benefits currently active (regular state benefits, Tiers 1-4 of EUC and EB). The filing deadline extension simply changes the date that the EUC program will begin to phase out to November 2010 (from June 2010.) If all of an individual's benefits have been exhausted, there will be no additional extension unless Congress passes additional legislation mandating additional weeks of benefits.

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Q: If an individual's benefit year ends, does this make the individual ineligible for further unemployment benefits?

A: No. Every 52 weeks, the state is required to check whether an individual has earned enough wages during the previous year, either through part-time or full-time work, to qualify for a new unemployment claim. If the individual qualifies for new regular state benefits and the weekly benefit amount is either $100 less or 25% less than the current weekly benefit amount, then the individual will continue collecting EUC on his or her first claim. If an individual qualifies for a new claim for regular state benefits but the weekly benefit amount is not $100 less or 25% less than his or her current weekly benefit amount, then the individual will start a new regular state benefits claim and after exhausting state benefits, can move back to his or her first EUC claim at the higher rate. Please see more information on the EUC Fix here http://www.nelp.org/page/-/UI/2010/Final.EUC.Fix.QA.pdf

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Q: If extended unemployment benefits are triggered by the recession and high unemployment rates, why do we need Congress to bass a bill every year?

A: Current extended benefit programs are enacted and considered to be emergency, not permanent programs. As emergency programs, they have set start and end dates and must be reauthorized passed the end date.

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Q: Who is opposed to extended benefits during a recession?

A. Generally extensions have broad bi-partisan support. More recently, far too many in Congress, the media and think tanks have objected to the cost of extensions and have objected that continuing federal jobless benefits makes the unemployed lazy.

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