Search Penny Hill Press

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Unemployment Insurance: Available Unemployment Benefits and Legislative Activity

Julie M. Whittaker
Specialist in Income Security

Alison M. Shelton
Analyst in Income Security

Various benefits may be available to unemployed workers to provide income support. When eligible workers lose their jobs, the Unemployment Compensation (UC) program may provide up to 26 weeks of income support through the payment of regular UC benefits. UC benefits may be extended for up to 13 or 20 additional weeks at the state level by the Extended Benefit (EB) program if certain economic situations exist within the state. Certain groups of workers who lose their jobs because of international competition may qualify for income support through Trade Adjustment Act (TAA) programs. Unemployed workers may be eligible to receive Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits if they are not eligible for regular UC and if their unemployment may be directly attributed to a declared major disaster. 

The authorization for the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC08) program expired on April 5, 2010, although Congress is currently considering legislation to retroactively extend the program. Those beneficiaries receiving tier I, II, III, or IV EUC08 benefits before April 3, 2010 (April 4, 2010, in New York) are "grandfathered" for their remaining weeks of eligibility for that particular tier only. There will be no new entrants into any tier of the EUC08 program after April 3, 2010. If an individual is eligible to continue to receive his or her remaining EUC08 tier benefit after April 3, 2010, that individual would not be entitled to tier II benefits once those tier I benefits were exhausted. 

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), P.L. 111-5, contained provisions affecting unemployment benefits. ARRA temporarily increased benefits by $25 per week (Federal Additional Compensation, or FAC). ARRA also extended the EUC08 program through the end of 2009. ARRA provided for 100% federal financing of the EB program through January 1, 2010, and allowed states the option of temporarily easing EB eligibility requirements. ARRA suspended income taxation on the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits received in 2009. In addition, states would not owe or accrue interest, through December 2010, on federal loans to states for the payment of unemployment benefits. ARRA also provided for a special transfer of up to $7 billion in federal monies to state unemployment programs as "incentive payments" for changing certain state UC laws. In addition, ARRA transferred $500 million to the states for administering unemployment programs. P.L. 111-92 expanded the number of weeks available in the EUC08 program. Tier I benefits continue to be up to 20 weeks in duration and tier II benefits are now 14 weeks in duration (compared with 13 previously) and no longer are dependent on a state's unemployment rate. The new tier III benefit provides up to 13 weeks of EUC08 benefits to those workers in states with an average unemployment rate of 6% or higher. The new tier IV benefit may provide up to an additional six weeks of benefits if the state unemployment rate is at least 8.5%. P.L. 111-118 extended the EUC08 program, 100% federal financing of the EB program, and the $25 FAC benefit through the end of February 2010. The Temporary Extension Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-144), extends the EUC08 program, 100% federal financing of the EB program, and the $25 FAC benefit to April 5, 2010. 

On March 10, 2010, the Senate passed H.R. 4213, the Tax Extenders Act of 2010. H.R. 4213 would extend the availability of EUC08, 100% federal financing of EB, and the $25 FAC benefits, through the end of December 2010. Because the original bill was amended by the Senate in the nature of a substitute (S.Amdt. 3336), the Senate-passed version must now go back to the House for consideration. On March 17, 2010, the House passed H.R. 4851, the Continuing Extension Act of 2010. H.R. 4851 would extend the availability of EUC08, 100% federal financing of EB, and the $25 FAC benefits, until the week ending on or before May 5, 2010.

Date of Report: April 6, 2010
Number of Pages: 32
Order Number: RL33362
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.