With over 23 million Americans currently receiving some type of unemployment benefits, many are at risk of exhausting their benefits — especially those who have been jobless since the beginning of the pandemic.
How long you receive unemployment benefits largely varies by state. Unemployment benefits typically last 26 weeks, but thanks to some of the government relief legislation from this year and other laws, you may be able to get up to 59 weeks of benefits, depending on a few factors.
Here’s what you need to know about how long your unemployment benefits will last.
Regular State Unemployment Insurance
Most states offer 26 weeks of regular state unemployment benefits. But there are states that offer less. These are:
Alabama: 14 weeks
Arkansas: 16 weeks
Florida: 12 weeks
Idaho: 22 weeks
Missouri: 20 weeks
North Carolina: 12 weeks
South Carolina: 20 weeks
The up-to-26-weeks of benefits is available both for those on Unemployment Insurance (UI) and those on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) such as independent contractors and self-employed workers.
For those on PUA unemployment benefits, eligibility will end on December 31 no matter when you applied first for the benefit.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
On top of the up-to-26-weeks of standard state benefits, jobless Americans also get an extra 13 weeks of federally funded benefits.
Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the federal government will provide a 13-week Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) extension.
You should be redirected to file for PEUC after your regular benefits expire and you try to file for another week. If not, check with your state’s labor department.
If you haven’t used all 13 weeks of that extension by the end of December, they will expire.
Extended benefits (EB)
The third and final extension jobless Americans can use is the Extended Benefits (EB).
EB is a federally-funded program that extends those benefits further, usually when the state's unemployment rate hits 5.9%. EB usually lasts 13 weeks, though some states may offer up to 20 weeks in a “High Unemployment Period.”
Some states — including Ohio, New Jersey, and California — enacted extensions of 20 weeks. Other states may no longer offer the program if their unemployment rate is above 5.9%
People can claim EB only after they have exhausted the approximately 26 weeks of unemployment plus the 13 additional weeks given under the CARES Act.
If unemployment remains high, Congress may authorize additional weeks of benefits like what happened in 2009 when a total of 99 weeks were provided under all programs.
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