Will You Qualify for Extending Unemployment?

May 7th 2016

There's good news for recipients of unemployment insurance benefits. The Senate passed HR 3979 on April 14, 2014, renewing legislation that provides a 5-month retroactive extension of the UI benefits that expired December 28, 2013. This means that if you were previously receiving benefits and are still unemployed, or your benefits were discontinued on December 28, you may be eligible to receive extended UI. 

Also, if you have recently qualified for unemployment insurance benefits in your state but are now approaching the end of your benefit period, you may be able to apply for an extension. This is truly a rough time for employment seekers, and you may be wondering if you can make an appeal to your state for an extension of these benefits.  Read the following carefully, because you might qualify for an extension.

Unemployment Insurance Extended Benefits

During periods of very high unemployment, the state may grant people who have exhausted all regular unemployment insurance benefits the opportunity to apply for extended benefits. Usually, the Extended Benefits program provides up to 13 weeks of extended benefits. With the exception of some states, a voluntary program pays up to an additional seven weeks (on top of the 13-weeks extension) during periods of exceptionally high unemployment. Once qualified by the state, the amount of weekly compensation for the extended benefits will be the same as the amount received by the individual for regular unemployment benefits.

Extended Benefits Qualification

In most states, regular UI benefits can last up to a maximum of 26 weeks. Only Massachusetts and Montana offer a longer benefits period (30 weeks and 28 weeks respectively). Unfortunately, it can take more than 26 or 28 or even 30 weeks to find employment. This is where extended benefits come in.
Extended benefits begin once an individual has exhausted all other unemployment insurance benefits, with the exception of Trade Readjustment Allowances and Disaster Unemployment Assistance. Sadly, not all who were eligible for regular UI benefits will qualify for an extension. Contact your state unemployment insurance agency to find out whether extended benefits are offered in your area and whether you are eligible for extended benefits.
If you are already receiving regular unemployment benefits, you don’t have to worry about missing out on information about the extension program. When a state initiates its extended benefit program, it alerts its regular benefits holders. 
It is very important that you apply for an extension before your regular benefits expire to avoid inconvenience and to ensure the smooth and continuous flow of your benefits. This will also provide you with enough time to complete all the requirements.

Extending Benefits by State

To find out more about your state's rules on UI extended benefits, visit this service locator. There, you can find all the information you need, listed by state, regarding eligibility requirements. You can also file your UI claims directly using the site.
Unfortunately, benefits extension will not be available in some areas. For example, for the City of New York, “you must have exhausted all available weeks of benefits by 12/2/12. Please note that the Extended Benefits (EB) program ended in New York State on December 9, 2012. At this time, we do not expect the EB program to return. EB is only available when the Total Unemployment Rate is at least 110% of the average for any or all of the corresponding three-month periods ending in the three preceding calendar years. Our unemployment rate does not meet these requirements.” 

Being unemployed and looking for work is stressful, but being unemployed without benefits is worse. Hopefully, those few extra weeks of extended UI benefits will give you the time you need to land a job. For crucial information that pertains to your state, just be sure to use the handy service locator.

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