What is an extension for unemployment benefits? How long does it last? How can you apply?
Traditional unemployment insurance lasts for 26 weeks. When there are high levels of unemployment in your state, it may be possible for you to receive an extension of benefits. A high level of unemployment is traditionally defined as a rate above 6%. Your state will notify you about applying for an unemployment extension when your traditional benefits are about to expire, and will be able to inform you as to the unemployment rate in your state.
As the name implies, an extension of benefits allows for a continuation of unemployment compensation payments above and beyond the initial 26 week period. There are two types of extended unemployment benefits: 1. Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) and 2. Extended Benefits (EB).
Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC)
- Under EUC, the number of additional weeks you can receive will depend on the unemployment level in your state.
- In states with unemployment rates above 6%, you will be eligible for an additional 33 weeks of benefits. If the unemployment rate in your state is below 6%, the extension of unemployment benefits is 20 weeks.
- Emergency Unemployment Compensation is a result of legislation passed during 2008, and is set to expire at the end of 2009, unless Congress votes to extend it.
Extended Benefits (EB)
- Extended Benefits (EB) offer an additional extension of benefits once EUC has been exhausted. Again, the length of time you will receive additional benefits depends on the level of unemployment in your state.
- In states with unemployment rates above 6.5%, you will be eligible for an additional 13 weeks of unemployment compensation. And, if the unemployment rate in your state is above 8%, the extension of benefits is another 7 weeks (for a total of 20 weeks).
As mentioned, your state should notify you about applying for an unemployment extension when your traditional benefits are about to expire. To be safe, however, it is worth contacting your unemployment office to inquire about an extension a few weeks before your 26 week period of regular benefits is complete. In order to qualify for an extension, you will be asked to meet the same eligibility standards required for regular benefits.
In total, getting an extension for unemployment benefits makes it possible to receive up to 79 weeks of benefits (26 weeks of traditional benefits + 33 weeks of EUC + 20 weeks of EB) if you live in a state with a high rate of unemployment.