In a struggling economy such as the United States has experienced since 2007, one of the consequences with the greatest human toll is unemployment. Many more people than usual who are willing to work, and who in many cases have considerable job skills and experience, are jobless and no longer receiving the paycheck they need to support themselves and their family.
Some unemployed workers are eligible for unemployment compensation via government programs that are administered by the individual states. These programs tend to expand and contract as the unemployment rate goes up and down. That is, many states have provisions for extended unemployment benefits that are triggered when the unemployment rate in their state rises above a certain level. Furthermore, on the federal level, the government is more likely during times of economic downturn to step in to provide additional emergency funding for unemployment compensation beyond what the states are able to pay. An example of the latter is the bill signed into law on July 22, 2010 by President Obama to extend unemployment benefits.
In normal times, most states limit a worker to 26 weeks of unemployment compensation, at an average pay level of 34% of the worker’s pay rate at their last job.
In order to be eligible for benefits, the worker must have had an employer other than being self-employed, must not have quit their job, and must not have been fired for cause. So, unemployment benefits are for cases such as a group of workers laid off by a company that is downsizing, the entire work staff of a company being out of work because it went out of business, or a person who is let go and not replaced because their job itself is being eliminated. In order to remain eligible for benefits, the worker must document the fact that they are actively seeking a job.
When extended unemployment benefits are available, they are most often for an additional 13 week increment. This can vary, though, depending on specific federal and state laws. For example, the federal law passed in July 2010 extended unemployment benefits to up to 73 weeks beyond the standard initial 26 weeks.
How to apply for extended unemployment benefits varies from state to state, but in general here is how it works:
Before one can apply, one must first receive the official notice as one’s present benefit period is expiring that extended benefits are currently available under the law. At that point, it’s quite simple. In some states, one need do nothing beyond continue to fulfill the requirements one was already under for receiving unemployment compensation. In other states, one must do that plus fill out an additional form or forms specific to extended unemployment compensation.
Those standard requirements generally are:
* Submit weekly reports of one’s job seeking activities.
* Report any income.
* Document any jobs one has attempted to obtain.
But for details, it is always best to communicate directly with the agency in one’s state that is responsible for administering the unemployment compensation program.
Andrew Taylor, “Obama Signs Bill Restoring Jobless Benefits.” SFGate.
“Extended Unemployment Benefits.” Employee Issues.
“How to Get Extended Unemployment Benefits.” eHow.