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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Unemployment Insurance: Programs and Benefits

Katelin P. Isaacs
Analyst in Income Security

Julie M. Whittaker
Specialist 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. Unemployment benefits may be extended for up to 53 weeks by the temporarily authorized Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC08) program. Unemployment benefits may be extended for up to a further 13 or 20 weeks by the permanent Extended Benefit (EB) program under certain state economic conditions. 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. Former U.S. military servicemembers may be eligible for unemployment benefits through the unemployment compensation for ex-servicemembers (UCX) program. The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act of 1991 (P.L. 102-164) provides that ex-servicemembers be treated the same as other unemployed workers with respect to benefit levels, the waiting period for benefits, and benefit duration.

The authorization for the EUC08 program expires the week ending on or before January 3, 2012. Those beneficiaries receiving tier I, II, III, or IV EUC08 benefits before December 31, 2011, 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 December 31, 2011.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) temporarily increased benefits from all unemployment compensation programs—UC, EUC08, EB, DUA, and TAA—by $25 per week (Federal Additional Compensation, or FAC). Authorization for the FAC was extended by P.L. 111-118, P.L. 111-144, and P.L. 111-157. The $25 FAC benefit expired on May 29, 2010 (May 30, 2010, in New York State). Individuals receiving unemployment benefits prior to the FAC expiration continued to received the additional $25 until they exhausted unemployment benefits from all programs or until December 11, 2010 (December 12, 2010, for New York State), whichever day came first. All FAC payments have ended.

On December 17, 2010, the President signed P.L. 111-312, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010. P.L. 111-312 extends the authorization for the EUC08 program until January 3, 2012, and the 100% federal financing of EB through January 4, 2012. P.L. 111-312 also contains a provision that would allow states to use three-year lookback calculations in their mandatory insured unemployment rate (IUR) and optional total unemployment rate (TUR) triggers (rather than the two-year lookback calculations under current law) to trigger on or keep on a period of EB benefits if they would otherwise trigger off or not be on a period of EB benefits.

This report previously contained a section on unemployment insurance legislation. This information is now included as part of CRS Report R41662, Unemployment Insurance: Legislative Issues in the 112
th Congress, by Katelin P. Isaacs and Julie M. Whittaker.

Date of Report: July 18, 2011
Number of Pages: 32
Order Number: RL33362
Price: $29.95

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