Standard unemployment benefits run out after 26 weeks, but most residents in all 50 states in the U.S. qualify for multiple unemployment extensions, known collectively as emergency unemployment compensation, that provide months of additional weekly paychecks. Most states automatically determine the eligibility of their residents, requiring the resident to expend little effort to ensure they receive continuing benefits.
In most states, the department of labor will automatically file an application for emergency unemployment compensation on an individual’s behalf if he qualifies for the program, according to the California Employment Development Department. The department will then send a claim form that the unemployed resident will have to fill out and mail to or drop off at his local employment services office.
Sometimes a state cannot or will not file a claim automatically. In this case, an unemployed individual can submit a request for the extension of benefits online or by telephone. Some states, such as Washington, will send out a paper EUC to all individuals they consider eligible for the program but will not automatically file an extension. If a resident is unsure whether he qualifies for the program or does not receive notification of filing, he can call his state department of labor to request information about the program.
Residents in all states qualify for three tiers of emergency unemployment compensation (EUC). In states that have a three month average unemployment rate of 8.5 percent of higher, individuals can qualify for a fourth tier of benefits. These four tiers provide an up to an extra 20, 13, 14 and 6 weeks of unemployment benefits respectively. Residents should check their state department of labor to determine what tiers they qualify for. After a state resident sends in his claim form for the first tier of EUC, future tiers kick in automatically without the need for action on the part of an unemployed individual.
While the state will determine eligibility for each resident, unemployed individuals must exhaust their unemployment benefits to qualify for the first extension by December 24, 2011, as of May 2011, according to the Georgia Department of Labor. Individuals cannot qualify for future tiers unless they exhaust regular unemployment and previous tiers by December 31, 2011. In order to qualify, residents must have not been disqualified from their regular 26 weeks of unemployment compensation, and they must have initiated their regular claim for unemployment benefits on or after March 7, 2006.