How to Know What Tiers of Emergency Unemployment Compensation You Are Eligible For?

by Trudy Brunot

Recognizing that finding a job becomes more difficult when unemployment remains high, the U.S. Congress created the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program with the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2008. EUC temporarily extends the number of weeks states can pay unemployment compensation. EUC establishes tiers of benefit weeks that correspond to a state's total unemployment rate, or TUR. The TUR and number of paid UC weeks determine a recipient's tier.

EUC Tiers

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco reports that the normal unemployment level in the U.S. has increased from its historic 5 percent to 6.7 percent -- an economic condition reflected in the EUC's four-tier structure. Tier 1 applies to all states and provides eligible claimants with an additional 14 weeks of unemployment compensation. Eligibility for any of the remaining tiers hinges on a state's three month, seasonally adjusted TUR. Unemployed workers in states with a TUR of at least 6 percent progress to the second tier and qualify for another 14 weeks of UC after exhausting their Tier 1 benefits. If the state's TUR remains at 7 percent or above, it can continue to pay claimants for nine more weeks under Tier 3. The fourth tier requires a state TUR of at least 9 percent and releases a final 10 weeks of unemployment compensation. A claimant living in a tier four state can receive a total of 47 weeks of EUC under the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 that expires January 1, 2014.


When you no longer have regular unemployment compensation and are not eligible to open a new claim, your state unemployment compensation office notifies you how to apply for EUC. You must file a bi-weekly claim, actively search for employment and maintain a log of your job search activities. Claimants progress through the tiers automatically as they use up applicable benefits, so you don't have to apply for subsequent tiers. A letter from your UC office tells you when you start a new tier and the number of weeks that tier provides.


You have to meet additional eligibility requirements mandated by the federal government to qualify for EUR: Be available and able to work, unemployed due to reasons other than quitting or what the law terms "willful misconduct," or working reduced hours. You also have to actively search for employment and maintain a log of your job-search activities. Eligibility has time constraints set by law due to the finite nature of the EUC program. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the week ending December 28, 2013 is the last payable week for the current EUC program. This deadline makes the last day a new tier can begin.


Should the state's TUR drop while you're receiving EUC, the number of benefit weeks in your tier doesn't change. For example, as a Tier 3 claimant with nine weeks of EUC benefits, you still have nine weeks of benefits if the unemployment rate drops below 7 percent and the state no longer qualifies as a Tier 3 state.The EUC program normally pays the same dollar amount each week as the regular state claim paid, including allowances for dependents. However, the 2013 federal sequestration reduced EUC benefits to 89 percent of the weekly state rate. Payments stop on the program's end date, regardless of whether you have a claim balance.

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