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An Extension for Unemployment Benefits – What You Need to Know



What is an extension for unemployment benefits? How long does it last? How can you apply?

Traditional unemployment insurance lasts for 26 weeks. When there are high levels of unemployment in your state, it may be possible for you to receive an extension of benefits. A high level of unemployment is traditionally defined as an unemployment rate above 6%. Your state will notify you about applying for an unemployment extension when your traditional benefits are about to expire, and will be able to inform you as to the unemployment rate in your state.

As the name implies, an extension of benefits allows for a continuation of unemployment compensation payments above and beyond the initial 26 week period. There are two types of extensions of benefits: 1. Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) and 2. Extended Benefits (EB).

Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC)

  • Under EUC, the number of additional weeks you can receive will depend on the unemployment level in your state.
  • In states with unemployment rates above 6%, you will be eligible for an additional 33 weeks of unemployment benefits. If the unemployment rate in your state is below 6%, the extension of payments is 20 weeks.
  • Emergency Unemployment Compensation is a result of legislation passed during 2008, and is set to expire at the end of 2009, unless Congress votes to extend it.

Extended Benefits (EB)

  • Extended Benefits (EB) offer an additional extension of benefits once EUC has been exhausted. Again, the length of time you will receive additional benefits depends on the level of unemployment in your state.
  • In states with unemployment rates above 6.5%, you will be eligible for an additional 13 weeks of unemployment compensation. And, if the unemployment rate in your state is above 8%, the extension of unemployment insurance is another 7 weeks (for a total of 20 weeks).

As mentioned, your state should notify you about applying for an unemployment extension when your traditional benefits are about to expire. To be safe, however, it is worth contacting your unemployment office to inquire about an extension a few weeks before your 26 week period of regular benefits is complete. In order to qualify for an extension, you will be asked to meet the same eligibility standards required for regular benefits.

In total, getting an extension for unemployment benefits makes it possible to receive up to 79 weeks of benefits (26 weeks of traditional benefits + 33 weeks of EUC + 20 weeks of EB) if you live in a state with a high rate of unemployment.

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76 comments to An Extension for Unemployment Benefits – What You Need to Know

  • rover632

    Hi, I live in SC and I work part-time. I have been reciveng regular unemployment benefits and exhausted those on 2/19/10. I went yo local office to sign up for 1st extension and was approved. I receieved 1 check and the next week, they told me that since I work part-time, I will not recieve the extension until the issue has been resolved. Does anyone know what this means? thanks in advance

  • Nikki

    I received a letter in the mail (actually two letters) stating that i am eligible to receive tier 2 benefits for an additional 13 weeks. I tried to file my claim today and was told that all benefits have been exhausted. you can imagine my shock thinking i was covered for an additional 13 weeks and now nothing. Apparently senate did not sign the bill for EB. Does this mean i’m shit out of luck. or could i still possibly be getting the 13 weeks. and I agree 100% with Richard how bout helping the american people for a change. it’s all good to help foreign countries but when your own people are struggling it’s kinda shitty to just leave them hanging.

  • Chris

    Hi I have been collecting unemployment since feb 2009 and during the month of feb 2010 i was told to file a new claim… in which i did.. I just wanted to know what are my chances of getting a continuing check as i have yet to find a job… (I live in TN (Rate of unemployment i think was over 8%-if that helps)

  • Janice

    I live in the state of California. My regular UI benefit year expired but my regular benefits have not yet exhausted since I have a part-time job while I received UI benefit. Does anyone know whether I’m qualify for the extension of benefit? Do I need to apply for a new claim? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

  • Janice

    I live in the state of California. My regular UI benefit year expired but my regular benefits have not yet exhauted since I have a part-time job while I received UI benefit. Does anyone know whether I’m qualify for the extension of benefit? Do I need to apply for a new claim? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

  • Puja

    Please Help!
    I live in California My first unemployment extension expires in early Jan 2010, and my claim expires in early Feb 2010. My questions are:
    Will my second unemployment extension start after my first extension expires or in Feb 2010?
    Do I need to file for a new claim or will the unemployment dept take care of it? Does the State refuse new claim and on what grounds?
    Also, will I get the same weekly benefit amount in the new claim?

  • richard

    all i know is this people need these extentions the goverment bailed out all big about helping the american people for a change

  • Stephen

    have a question. Just hit my year anniversery being on unemployment. I’m currently on my second extension and received a letter in the mail stating “Notice of Determination of Invalid Claim Section 1277 dated 11/22/09. It further states I didn’t earn anything for the last year (that’s because I’ve been on unemploymnet). There is a statement at the bottom that has a box checked stating this does not affect your claim for extended benefits, and that my UI claim is invalid until 04/10 at which time this test will no longer apply. I’m assuming this letter just means I’m ineligible to file a new unemployment claim until next year, but I can continue to receive extended benefits, which I’ve been doing. I even have a claim for that is dated for periods after 11/21/09. Do I have to be concerned or is just what it appears to be. thanx!

  • Kelly

    My first benefit year expired in April 2009. I applied for the new benefit year and got approved for additional 20 weeks. Now my benfits from the second benefit year is exhausted Sept 2009. I filed for extended and got approval and paid based on the amount of the second benefit year. Now Ohio Unemployment is saying I have been overpaid. The difference between the two benefit years x 6 weeks. Why would it go back to the old benefit year amount? I did have some Tier 1 benefits left and all of Tier 2 at the time of the benefit year expiration. It then wanted me to re-open my claim after this new update. This is making it difficult for my family as my husband is also unemployed at this time. Could this be a programming error since the new extention is being added?

  • Rhonda

    I as well live in Indiana and its hard to speak to anyone , My question is as followed , i really dont understand all this stuff so any help would be greatful, My UI-start date was 10/1/06 and end date was 9/29/07 with an EEUC start date 7/3/08 and end date 5/29/2010 and Eb start date 5/10/2009 end date 10/3/2009. I dont know if I quailfy for house bill 3548 can someone help,

  • dana wagner

    The bill is H.R. 3548. if i have been out of benefits for a month will i get the new extension. I live in tennessee but i filed out of texas..thank you and will it retro back till when my benefits ended.

  • Mark

    I read an article at that said few will be eligble for the 20 weeks. My last week of unemployment was the week ending Oct 24, 2009 in Ohio.

    The article states:

    “So even if a person could start collecting on the latest extension today, the calendar will run out before they can get all 20 weeks of benefits. As currently written, they will get one additional week for the second extension and, because their unemployment will carry into next year, 13 weeks of FedEd, for a maximum of 14 weeks.”

    With 7 to 8 weeks left in the year, does that mean everyone will be in the first extension when the year ends and we will all only get 1 week for the second extension? Why even bother putting the 20 weeks in there if this is true?!

  • Shane R

    I was on the Indiana EB that I had to apply for with the letter. I had drawn benefits for 4 weeks out of the 13 when I was called back to work finally. I returned to work, but was laid off again yesterday. I went into the uplink system and it shows my EB is expired. Will I still be able to claim the remainder of the benefits or am I just screwed? The system still shows I have $3800 available in the EB.

    I am going to try to contact someone today, but in Indiana at least that is nearly impossible.

  • Alicia

    I live in CA, and my first extension ends Jan 2010 end. The last date for the second extension can begin is 12/27/2009. Will I be eligible for an extension? Will there be a wait period while the senate decide whether there will be any extension?

  • Becky

    Question for Smart Unemployment.
    I live in North Carolina and have been on unemployment benefits since Feb 2008 when I was laid off from a job of 20 years. I’ve taken advantage of the Workforce Initiative Act (WIA) and have been in school since Jan 2008. I should graduate in May 2010. My current year’s regular unemplyment benefits were exhausted in August and my EUC will run out this December. Are there any other extensions for NC that might help me make it through to graduation in May 2010?

  • dana wagner

    good morning…any news on the new bill trying to be passed…thank luck in job hunting

  • Smart Unemployment

    @Edward – In North Carolina, you will receive EUC after your regular benefits have expired. The NC Employment Security Commission will send you a written notice if you are eligible. If you exhaust your EUC benefits, you will need to apply for EB to see if you are eligible. The link from the NC ESC ( is the same location as that for applying for regular benefits.

    @Ronnie – The latest proposal would be a federal extension to EUC. The benefits will not be retroactive, and should be the same amount you received under EUC previously. As with EUC, you should be notified if you are eligible, but it would also be worthwhile to follow up with the Illinois Department of Employment Security ( when the bill passes.

    @Greg – Please see the response from Marie. Thanks Marie!

    @Gina, Tammy, Dana, Sray & Nichole – Progress is being made on the bill to further extend unemployment benefits. The current bill would provide for a further 14 week extension, and an additional 6 weeks (for 20 weeks total) for people in states where the unemployment rate is above 8.5%.

    The Senate voted to allow an amendment to be heard. The amendment in question deals with an extension of the tax credit for new homebuyers. (While this amendment is unrelated to unemployment benefits, some senators want to add a number of programs along with the unemployment extension, as it is a something that has broad support.) After amendments are approved, the Senate and the House both need to pass an agreed upon bill.

    @First Last – Thanks very much the Texas info!

    @HBV – Good question. As the bill being considered is an extension to EUC, you may receive this before receiving EB. If by chance the bill does not pass, the state of California may revise the deadline for EB qualification, as there will be many people in a similar situation.

    For updates on extended unemployment benefits in California, you can reference this page from the CA EDD:

  • Nichole

    I heard that there was a voted today did they pass the bill?

  • Marie

    Reply to Greg: When your unemployment benefits expires file for a new claim. Even it expires, you will still continue receiving your 9 weeks left.

  • HBV


    I live in CA and i will exhaust my first extension by Jan 2010 and the cuttoff date for second extension is dec 2009. So would i qualify for extended benifits according to the new Bill or can i apply for 2nd extension.

    Thanks in advance