One week after you file your first unemployment claim, your 26-week benefit year begins. The benefit year is 26 weeks because unemployment benefits are paid once every two weeks. If your initial unemployment claim runs out, you stop receiving unemployment unless you qualify for an extension of your benefits.
Regular Benefit Year
If you file subsequent unemployment claims after filing your initial unemployment claims, your benefit year does not restart. Instead, the weeks remaining from your first unemployment claim are used. For example, assume you received 16 weeks under your initial unemployment claim, and you were recalled back to work. You worked for two weeks and were laid off again. When you file another unemployment claim, you have to first use up your 10 remaining weeks in your regular benefit year before you qualify for an extension of your benefits.
Emergency Unemployment Compensation
The Emergency Unemployment Compensation is a four-tiered federal unemployment benefits program. For a state to qualify for EUC benefits on tiers one through three, its unemployment rate must average at least six percent over a three-month period. To qualify for tier four EUC benefits, the unemployment rate in the state must average at least 8.5 percent over three months. For example, if your state's unemployment rate is 10 percent in January, 11 percent in February and 12 percent in March, the average unemployment rate over three months is 11 percent. In this case, your state qualifies for all four EUC tiers.
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EUC Extension Weeks
If you live in a state that qualifies for tier one EUC benefits, your unemployment benefits are extended for 20 more weeks after your regular benefit year expires. If you live in a tier two state, you qualify for 14 more weeks of benefits after your tier one benefits expire. In a tier three state, you qualify for 13 more weeks of EUC benefits after your tier two benefits expire, and in tier four, you qualify for six more weeks of EUC benefits. Your benefit amount is reduced as you enter each tier. Check with your state's unemployment agency to determine your benefits reduction.
The Extended Benefits program is another federal program that offers you an extension of your unemployment benefits after your initial state benefit year expires and after you've used up all the weeks provided by the EUC program. The government offers the EB program on state-by-state basis and not all states qualify. If your state qualifies, the EB program can extend your benefits for 13 to 20 additional weeks. You must check with your state's unemployment agency to find out if they qualify to offer unemployed individuals additional benefits through the EB program.