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[Excerpt] A variety of benefits may be available to unemployed workers to provide them with income support during a spell of unemployment. The cornerstone of this income support is the joint federal-state Unemployment Compensation (UC) program, which may provide income support through the payment of UC benefits for up to a maximum of 26 weeks. Other programs that may provide workers with income support are more specialized. They may target special groups of workers, be automatically triggered by certain economic conditions, be temporarily created by Congress with a set expiration date, or target typically ineligible workers through a disaster declaration.

UC benefits may be extended at the state level by the permanent Extended Benefit (EB) program if high unemployment exists within the state. Once regular unemployment benefits are exhausted, the EB program may provide up to an additional 13 or 20 weeks of benefits, depending on worker eligibility, state law, and economic conditions in the state. The EB program is funded 50% by the federal government and 50% by the states, although the 2009 stimulus package (P.L. 111-5, as amended) temporarily provides for 100% federal funding of the EB program.

A temporary unemployment insurance program, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC08) program, began in July 2008. The authorization for the EUC08 program expires the week ending on or before January 1, 2014. Therefore, the last day of EUC08 availability is December 28, 2013 (December 29, 2013, for New York). This was the eighth temporary program Congress has created to provide extended unemployment compensation during an economic slowdown. The EUC08 benefit is 100% federally funded. State UC agencies administer the EUC08 benefit along with regular UC benefits. See Appendix A for diagrams of the current unemployment benefits available to workers as well as a detailed diagram of the expansions and contractions of the EUC08 benefit.

This report describes three kinds of unemployment benefits: regular UC, EB, and EUC08. The report explains their basic eligibility requirements, benefits, and financing structure.


Suggested Citation
Whittaker, J. M. & Isaacs, K. P. (2013). Unemployment insurance: Programs and benefits. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.

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