How Long Do Unemployment Benefits Last in West Virginia?

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Looking for a new job is a full time job.
Looking for a new job is a full time job. (Image: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Unemployment insurance, the earnings safety net for those who have lost a job, is funded by state and federal government. It is administered individually by each state. Because West Virginia is experiencing a period of high unemployment as defined by the federal government, workers can receive extended benefits while they continue to look for a job.

Regular Unemployment Insurance

Regular Unemployment Insurance, known as UI, lasts 26 weeks and is entirely funded by the state of West Virginia; the state may opt to extend these benefits for an additional 20 weeks. Qualified workers can expect to receive a portion of lost income, according to the West Virginia Policy website. Once a worker finds a new job, the payments stop. To qualify for unemployment, a worker must have been employed for two quarters, become unemployed through no fault of his own, file ongoing claims, report earnings from jobs, job offers or refusals to work.

Extended Unemployment Compensation: Tier I

The "tier" system is paid for by the federal government, and begins after the state benefits have been exhausted. Tier I extends unemployment benefits for another 20 weeks, providing the worker continues to meet the qualifications set forth by West Virginia. Although the benefit was originally slated to last only 13 weeks when it was first instituted in July 2008, the benefit was extended to 20 weeks n November 2008. A worker who has exhausted his West Virginia and Tier I benefits will have received 66 weeks of unemployment insurance payments.

Extended Unemployment Compensation: Tier II

Also enacted in November 2008 was the Tier II level of benefits, which is also entirely federally funded. Tier II provides an additional 14 weeks of benefits for those who still qualify under West Virginia guidelines. However, in addition to the worker requirement, the state must meet the "EUC Tier II trigger," which means that the state's Insured Unemployment Rate must be at least 4 percent; West Virginia met this rule in April 2009. A worker who has exhausted state, Tier I, and Tier II benefits will have received 80 weeks of unemployment insurance payments.

Tiers III and IV

Benefits beyond Tier II are called tiers III and IV, and the cost is split evenly between the federal government and each state. To qualify, a worker must have exhausted state and tier I and II benefits. Tier III provides assistance for an additional 13 weeks; once it is complete, then a worker may qualify for Tier IV, which provides six additional weeks of payments. The total of the state benefits, plus the tiered benefits, that an unemployed person potentially receives is 99 weeks.

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