Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Evaluating EUC Tiers - Advocating For Extensions

All workers get regular state unemployment insurance benefits for up to 26 weeks. (Note: In states paying less than 26 weeks of UI benefits, unemployed workers get a proportionately smaller share of benefits under federal extension programs.) Generally, workers then draw Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) followed by Extended Benefits (EB), where available. There are currently up to four “tiers” of Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) extensions available depending upon state unemployment levels. Extended Benefits are not available in all states.

EUC Tiers I and II
Unemployed workers in all states qualify for benefits under EUC Tier I and Tier II. Tier I provides 20 weeks of benefits and Tier II provides 14 weeks for a total of 34 weeks. For 3 states with (3‐month average) unemployment rates under 6.0 percent (NE, ND, and SD), this 34 weeks represents the total available extension weeks.

In states with high unemployment (defined as 6.0 percent average 3‐month total unemployment or higher), unemployed workers can become eligible for an additional 13 weeks of benefits known as EUC Tier III. Currently, there are 47 states (all except NE, ND, and SD), as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, in which unemployed workers can qualify for EUC Tier III.

In states with 3‐month average total unemployment rates at or above 8.5 percent, unemployed workers can qualify for 6 additional weeks of extension benefits under EUC Tier IV. The 28 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, currently paying Tier IV benefits are AL,AK, AZ, CA, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, KY, MA, MI, MS, MO, NV, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, WA, and WV.
Extended Benefits (EB)

Finally, a separate program, called the Extended Benefits (EB) program is currently triggered on in 39 states. There are either 13 or 20 additional weeks of benefits, under the EB program depending upon which EB triggers are part of each state’s UI law and each state’s unemployment level. As of January 31, 2010, 28 states and the District of Columbia are paying 20 weeks of EB (AL,AK AZ,CA,CT, DE, GA, ID,IL,IN,KY,ME,MA, MI,NV,NJ,NY,NC,OH,OR,PA,RI,SC,TN,TX, WA, WV, and WI). Seven states and Puerto Rico are providing 13 weeks of EB (CO, KS, MN, NH, NM, VT, and VA).

Current Legislative Efforts to Reauthorize UI Extensions
Current federal extensions (including both the Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits programs), the additional $25 per week in each benefits check (known as Federal Additional Compensation (FAC)), and 65% COBRA subsidies for jobless workers are set to expire at the end of February 2010. The House has passed an extension of these provisions until June of this year in its Jobs Bill – everyone is now waiting for the Senate to act.

With the National Employment Law Project (NELP) and millions of unemployed Americans we are urging Congress to extend the EUC program, full federal funding of Extended Benefits, the $25 per week in Federal Additional Compensation, and the 65% 15-month COBRA subsidy through the end of 2010. Economists agree that unemployment will remain at extremely high levels through the end of this calendar year; therefore it is important to extend this program through 2010. While there appears to be majority support for reauthorization, there are also strong indications that Congress will likely extend these programs for a number of months, not for the rest of the year..

These benefits are set to expire on February 28, 2010, but in fact, if Congress does not extend these important benefits before Friday, February 19, 2010, states will have to start sending out notices to claimants that their benefits are expiring, and they will have to start reprogramming their computer systems to shut down with EUC, EB and FAC benefits. Were Congress to act after the 19th of February, there would be substantial delays in getting state programs back up and running and the disruption of benefits would be devastating to families and communities.
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