Extended Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment Extension Programs for 2021

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During this challenging time, there are additional unemployment benefits available to workers who have lost their jobs.

If you have exhausted unemployment benefits or are worried about running out of them, there are extended benefits funded by the federal government that will provide unemployment compensation beyond the maximum number of weeks provided by your state. 

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) stimulus bill was signed into law on March 27, 2020. It extended unemployment benefits for workers who were impacted by the pandemic through December 31, 2020. These benefits have been continued in 2021.

The American Rescue Plan extends expanded unemployment benefits through September 5, 2021, and includes $300 a week in extra compensation for eligibile workers. The first $10,200 in benefits collected in 2020 will be tax-free for households with annual incomes less than $150,000. Check with your state unemployment office for information on eligibility and collecting benefits.

Check with your state unemployment office for details on eligibility for extended benefits and information on the expiration of federal benefits. You can find a directory of offices on the Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop Unemployment Benefits Finder.

Who Is Eligible for Extended Unemployment Benefits?

What benefits will unemployed workers be eligible for? Ordinarily, workers in most states are eligible for 26 weeks of unemployment benefits, although some states provide less coverage. Montana is the only state that provides more with 28 weeks of unemployment benefits. 

In times of high unemployment, the federal government provides funds to the states to extend unemployment insurance programs for additional weeks of benefits beyond what each state offers.

In addition to employees who have traditionally been eligible to collect unemployment insurance compensation, the CARES Act extends benefits to workers who have not qualified for unemployment benefits in the past including independent contractors, self-employed and gig workers, and the long-term unemployed who have exhausted their benefits.

How Many Weeks of Unemployment Benefits Can You Get?

Unemployed workers can receive up to a maximum of 79 - 86 weeks of unemployment compensation, depending on location, the unemployment rate in your state, extended unemployment benefits, and eligibility.

Those benefits include a combination of unemployment insurance programs including additional weeks of benefits, extended benefits, and a supplemental weekly payment.

Basic Unemployment Benefits

Approved claimants will be eligible for either regular state unemployment benefits (for employees) or pandemic unemployment benefits (for self-employed workers and others who don’t qualify for regular benefits).

Expanded Unemployment Benefit Programs

These programs provide for unemployed workers who are receiving unemployment:

  • Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC)—Additional $300 per week.
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)—Allows individuals receiving benefits to continue as long as the individual has not reached the maximum number of weeks. It also increases the number of weeks of benefits an individual may claim through the PEUC.
  • Extended Unemployment Benefits (EB)—Additional 13 additional weeks of benefits when a state is experiencing high unemployment. Some states have also enacted a voluntary program to pay up to 7 additional weeks (20 weeks maximum) of Extended Benefits during periods of extremely high unemployment.

Payments will be made by your state unemployment department, and you can get the details on eligibility, benefits, and file for unemployment online.

Unemployment Extended Benefits (EB)

Your state and the federal government may provide additional benefits to people who have exhausted unemployment benefits.

There are additional weeks of federally funded Extended Benefits (EB) in states with high unemployment.

Unemployed workers are eligible for up to 13 or 20 weeks of additional unemployment benefits, depending on state laws, and the unemployment rate. 

Eligibility requirements vary by state, so be sure to check the FAQ section of your state unemployment websites for details. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a map which shows the extended unemployment benefits available in each state.

How to Collect Extended Unemployment Benefits

How you will collect extended benefits will vary based on your state. In some states, you won’t need to do anything. You will automatically be paid for the additional weeks. In others, you may need to apply.

  • If you are currently collecting unemployment benefits:
    Benefits are provided through the state unemployment offices and information on eligibility will be posted online. If you are eligible, you will be advised on how to collect when your regular unemployment benefits end. 
  • If you have exhausted unemployment benefits:
    Long-term unemployed workers who have already exhausted state unemployment benefits may also be eligible for additional weeks of benefits. Check with your state unemployment website for eligibility criteria in your location.

Key Takeaways

More Workers Are Eligible The CARES Act expands eligibility to workers who traditionally wouldn’t be able to collect unemployment benefits.

All Unemployed Workers Will Receive Supplemental Benefits Recipients of unemployment may be eligible to receive extra payments.

Extra Weeks of Unemployment Benefits Are Available Check with your state unemployment office for information on how long you can collect unemployment compensation.