11.23.2009 Policy Points

Extended Unemployment Insurance Benefits

A new report from the Congressional Research Service summarizes the issues related to the various extensions of unemployment insurance benefits authorized by Congress. With the most recent extension, workers receiving insurance benefits can qualify potentially for four tiers of Extended Unemployment Compensation (EUC).

A key problem is that while Congress has extended benefits, it has not yet reauthorized the larger EUC program, which is set to expire at the end of the year. Explains the report:

There has been some confusion on what the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance
Act of 2009, P.L. 111-92, accomplished. P.L. 111-92 expanded benefits available in the EUC08
program. That is, it substantially increased the number of weeks of EUC08 benefits available to
individuals; it did not extend the authorization of the program, which currently expires on
December 26, 2009. 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 6 weeks of benefits if the state unemployment rate is at
least 8.5%; however, at this time tier IV benefits are largely symbolic as few workers will qualify
for tier IV before the EUC08 program authorization expires.

There has been some confusion on what the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009, P.L. 111 92, accomplished. P.L. 111-92 expanded benefits available in the EUC08 program. That is, it substantially increased the number of weeks of EUC08 benefits available to individuals; it did not extend the authorization of the program, which currently expires on December 26, 2009. 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 6 weeks of benefits if the state unemployment rate is at least 8.5%; however, at this time tier IV benefits are largely symbolic as few workers will qualify for tier IV before the EUC08 program authorization expires.

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