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You are Here: Home > Blog > Extended Unemployment Benefits 2012

Employee Rights Blog

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Extended Unemployment Benefits 2012

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

On February 22 President Obama signed a new law that further extends unemployment benefit extensions through the remainder of 2012. Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued guidance on the extensions.

Update 1/2/2013: Congress has passed the bill that stretches eligibility for unemployment benefit extensions through 2013. See Unemployment Benefit Extensions 2013 for more information.

Update 12/29/12: President Obama is negotiating with congressional leaders to stretch unemployment benefit extensions into 2013. Employee Rights Blog will update you if and when the president is successful.

According to the DOL, the new law, entitled the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, extends eligibility for the unemployment benefit extensions through January 2, 2013.

To start, the unemployment benefits consist of up to 26 weeks in standard state unemployment benefits plus up to 53 weeks in Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) and up to 20 weeks in Extended Benefits (EB). However, as 2012 progresses many states will not meet both of two unemployment rate requirements and as a result, they will not qualify to pay EB.

After June 1, states must have higher average unemployment rates to qualify to pay EUC tiers 3-4 and after September 2, EUC benefits will be reduced to 47 weeks (see below). There is no “phase-out” period for EUC payments, so the last payable week of benefits will be the week ending December 29, 2012 in most states, according to the DOL.

The new law has toughened eligibility requirements; for example, it authorizes states to drug test certain EUC applicants and refuse benefits to those who fail. Applicants who might get tested are those who were terminated from their most recent employment because of drug use or who are employable only in occupations that regularly conduct drug testing.

Additionally, EUC claimants must regularly job search and keep detailed records of their employer contacts. (States are required to randomly audit the records.) After March 23, 2012 the law requires new claimants of EUC tiers 1 and 2 to participate in reemployment services and in reemployment and eligibility assessment activities.

As its title implies, the new law also extends the two-percent payroll tax cut through 2012.

About Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Extended Unemployment Benefits

The Emergency Unemployment Compensation program is often abbreviated as EUC08 (or EUC 08 or EUC 2008), because it became active under the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2008. EUC08 provides extra unemployment benefits divided into four “tiers” as follows.

  • Tier 1: 20 weeks in every state
  • Tier 2: 14 weeks in every state
  • Tier 3: 13 weeks in states with a 3-month unemployment rate of at least 6.0%
  • Tier 4: 6 weeks in states with a 3-month unemployment rate of at least 8.5%; 16 weeks if states have the same unemployment rate but are not on Extended Benefits

After June 1, states must have higher unemployment rates in order to pay tiers 3-4 of EUC08.

  • Tier 1: 20 weeks in every state
  • Tier 2: 14 weeks in states with a 3-month unemployment rate of at least 6.0%
  • Tier 3: 13 weeks in states with a 3-month unemployment rate of at least 7.0%
  • Tier 4: 6 weeks in states with a 3-month unemployment rate of at least 9.0%

Update 07/02/12: According to The Hill, 24 states lost eligibility for EUC in June because of the stricter unemployment rate triggers. The Hill also reported that “by the end of August, the federal Extended Benefits (EB) program will be done in 35 states because of falling unemployment rates, effectively ending the program and benefit payments for more than 500,000 unemployed workers.”

After September 2, EUC08 benefits will be reduced to 47 weeks.

  • Tier 1: 14 weeks in every state
  • Tier 2: 14 weeks in states with a 3-month unemployment rate of at least 6.0%
  • Tier 3: 9 weeks in states with a 3-month unemployment rate of at least 7.0%
  • Tier 4: 10 weeks in states with a 3-month unemployment rate of at least 9.0%

If warranted based on a state’s present and past, three-month average unemployment rates, the Extended Benefits (EB) program provides up to 20 weeks of extended unemployment benefits on top of emergency unemployment compensation. The DOL recalculates state unemployment rates weekly, to determine whether tiers 2-4 and extended benefits are “triggered” on or off in each state. Standard state unemployment benefits are always triggered on.

To become eligible for EUC08 tier 1, unemployed workers must first exhaust standard state unemployment benefits. Then they must exhaust tier 1 to become eligible for tier 2, if available in their work states — and so on in numerical sequence though tier 4. To become eligible for the EB program, if available in their work states, unemployed workers must exhaust all four tiers of EUC08.

If and when the time comes that you might be eligible for one of the four EUC08 tiers or extended unemployment benefits, then the state unemployment office is required to notify you. Even though notified, you still might have to confirm your eligibility; for example, you might need to file a new claim or simply continue to submit the required reports, such as your job-searching activity. The rules vary by state.

Your weekly compensation amount for emergency unemployment compensation and extended benefits will be the same as it was for your standard state unemployment benefits. See the article “Extended Unemployment Benefits” for more general information about the EUC08 and EB programs. For specifics, contact the relevant state unemployment office or browse its Web site.

Did you know?If your employer denies you unemployment benefits for misconduct (or for any other reason), then your employee rights entitle you to appeal the denial.

EmployeeIssues.com has updated this post as more information became available. The last update of significance was on July 2, 2012.

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