Emergency unemployment compensation

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Emergency unemployment compensation is a program initiated by the U.S. federal government in response to an economic slowdown of recession that provides additional unemployment benefits to workers experiencing long-term joblessness in states with high rates of unemployment. The EUC program is temporary, and differs from the Extended Benefit Program.

Contents

Current EUC Program

In 2008, Congress approved the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2008 (H.R. 2642), which was signed by President George W. Bush on June 30, 2008.[1] It provided $12.5 billion to help states provide an additional 13 weeks of unemployment compensation, above the regular unemployment benefits provided through 53 different state programs. Since the adoption of the current EUC program, there has been one extension (called Tier 2 EUC)[1].

Eligible individuals can now receive up to 33 weeks of EUC equal to their regular unemployment benefits, with an additional $25 per week provided as part of the 2009 stimulus bill. Eligibility for both tiers of EUC are set to expire on December 26, 2009 (meaning individuals would be unable to enroll for EUC payments if their regular benefits expire after December 26). EUC payments under Tiers 1 and 2 are set to cease after June 6, 2010.[1]

Additional extensions have been proposed in Congress and are being considered by lawmakers, including an additional 13-week extension (the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009) for states with high Total Unemployment Rates or Insured Unemployment Rates. In addition, legislation (H.R. 3404) has been introduced that would extend a third tier of EUC into 2010, and extend eligibility past the current December 26 deadline.

Tier 1 Emergency Unemployment Compensation

The benefit amount is equal to the claimant's weekly regular UC benefit, and includes any applicable dependents’ allowances. With the passage of the 2009 stimulus bill, an additional $25 weekly benefit is provided.

Originally set at a duration of 13 weeks (under H.R. 2642, the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2008), Tier 1 EUC benefits were extended by an additional 7 weeks in late 2008 when Congress approved H.R. 6867, the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act. While the maximum duration of benefits under Tier 1 EUC is 20 weeks, some individuals might receive less depending on their original UC benefits.

Eligibility

Eligibility for the first tier of EUC 0is based on three criteria: date of first claim, exhaustion of regular unemployment benefits, and 20-weeks of full-time insured employment (or equivalent).[1]

Date of first claim

According to the Congressional Research Service, applicants "must have been eligible for regular UC benefits and have exhausted their rights to regular UC compensation with respect to a benefit year that expired during or after the week of May 6, 2007.[1]

Exhaustion of regular EC benefits

To be eligible for emergency unemployment compensation, workers must have exhausted the regular unemployment benefits, which are determined on a state-by-state basis according to the federal-state unemployment benefits system. According to CRS,

Generally, regular UC eligibility is based on attaining qualified wages and employment in covered work over a 12-month period (called a base period). Conditional on earnings amounts and number of quarters worked in the base period, an individual may qualify for as little as one week of UC benefits in some states and as many as 26 weeks in other states. Individuals with higher earnings and multiple quarters of work history will generally receive higher UC benefits for a longer period of time.[1]

States determine benefit eligibility, amount and duration on an individual basis.

Full-time insured employment requirement

To be eligible for the EUC program, applicants must have at least 20 weeks of full-time insured employment (or an equivalent) in insured wages in their base claimant period.[1]

Tier 2 Emergency Unemployment Compensation

Workers in states experiencing unusually high levels of unemployment are eligible for a second tier of EUC, consisting of an additional 13 weeks of EUC payments.

Eligibility

To be eligible for Tier 2 payments, unemployed workers must have exhausted their regular UC benefits and Tier 1 EUC payments.

Exemption for low unemployment

In addition, at the time of a claimant's exhaustion, their state must be eligible for Tier 2. If, at the time of Tier 1 exhaustion, the claimant's state:

  1. has a Total Unemployment Rate of less than 6 percent and
  2. has an Insured Unemployment Rate of less than 4 percent

the claimant would not ineligible for tier 2 benefits.[1]

The claimant will become eligible for Tier 2 benefits if their state later meets the requirements for the EUC program (TUR greater than 6 percent or IUR greater than 4 percent), but the payments will not be retroactive to the period when the claimant was not receiving EUC payments.[1]

Legislation in the 111th Congress to expand EUC

Several bills have been introduced in the 111th Congress to expand the EUC program.

Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009‎

The Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009 (H.R. 3548 in the House, S. 1699 in the Senate) would provide an additional 13 weeks of EUC for states with unusually high rates of joblessness. Workers in states with a TUR of 8.5 percent or an IUR of 6 percent would ‎be eligible, but only if those individuals had exhausted their regular UC benefits and both Tier 1 and Tier 2 of EUC payments.

Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009

The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009 (H.R. 3404) would continue most of the EUC provisions into 2010 and extend EUC payments through June 2011. Those provisions include:

  • Extending eligibility period for EUC Tiers 1 and 2 into 2010 (currently set to expire on December 26, 2009)
  • Extending cutoff date for the 33 weeks of EUC payments to June 2011 (all EUC payments are set to cease after June 6, 2010)
  • Continuation of $25-per-week payment originally established by the 2009 stimulus bill
  • Continued 100-percent federal funding of the Extended Benefit Program (currently set to revert to a 50/50 state/federal split on January 1, 2010)

In addition, H.R. 3404 would provide an additional 13 weeks of EUC (similar to the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act for states with a TUR above 9.5 percent. A similar Senate bill (S.1647) would set eligibility at 8.5 percent.[2]

Articles and resources

Sources

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Julie M. Whitaker and Alison M. Shelton, "Temporary Extension of Unemployment Benefits: Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC08)", Congressional Research Service, February 17, 2009
  2. "Extended Jobless Benefits", National Employment Law Project, retrieved September 28, 2009

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