Both state and federal governments can extend unemployment benefits for those in need. At the time of this publication, the federal government has multiple levels of unemployment benefit extensions. Congress has approved funds through June 2012. Unemployment claimants who have cycled through their state benefits allotments can apply for federal extensions. In many cases, state unemployment programs will automatically process federal extensions for claimants.
Unemployment benefits extensions are designed for people who have extinguished their original state unemployment claims but still haven't found work. Although claimants should always contact their state unemployment programs to apply for federal extensions, some states including Wisconsin and California automatically initiate extension claims for anyone who qualifies. The extension program is available for people who have continued difficulty finding work in times of high unemployment and recession.
To receive unemployment extensions, claimants must actively search for work. Federal law requires claimants to maintain a log of employers contacted, follow-up communications and interviews attended. State unemployment programs, which administer federal benefits, may request to see the log at any time. Additionally, claimants cannot refuse suitable work including work secured for them by state unemployment programs.
At the time of this publication, federal benefits come in seven tiers. Tier one lasts for up to 21 weeks at the end of which claimants must apply for the next tier of benefits. State unemployment programs use the opportunity to review cases and ensure claimants continue to meet the requirements and are acting in good faith before extending the next tier of assistance, which lasts up to 14 weeks. Unemployment extensions make it possible for a claimant to receive up to 99 weeks of support.
For those who have tapped federal extension benefits or who receive unemployment assistance outside of a high unemployment period, state unemployment extensions are possible. Claimants must apply to their states, which review cases individually. Those seen as searching for work and in true need may receive additional benefits. If not, state unemployment officials can refer applicants to other, more appropriate government assistance programs.