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Congress Ends Federal Unemployment Benefits, Debates New Extension

January 20, 2014

In December 2013, the U.S. Congress reached a budget deal that ended a longstanding extension of federally funded unemployment benefits beyond 2013. As a result, the last payable week of extended federal benefits in Pennsylvania was the compensable week ending Dec. 28, 2013.

“Extended” federal unemployment benefits are paid pursuant to a temporary federal program that provides additional unemployment benefits to eligible claimants after their exhaustion of state unemployment benefits. For example, in Pennsylvania, eligible claimants ordinarily may receive state unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks. Claimants who remain unemployed beyond 26 weeks may then be eligible for extended federal benefits. 

Federal unemployment benefits are paid at the same weekly benefit amount as the regular state benefit claim on which they are based, including any dependents' allowances. Before Dec. 28, 2013, federal benefits were payable for up to an additional 37 weeks on a tiered basis tied to Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate.

Because the end to federal extended unemployment benefits has left more than 1 million Americans with no income, the issue has been subject to considerable and justifiable debate. In fact, Congress continues to debate a renewal of extended federal benefits for 2014, although no extension has been passed as of yet.

Pending the resolution of this issue in Congress, Pennsylvanians who were collecting unemployment benefits as of Dec. 28, 2013 should continue to file for benefits so that compensation will not be disrupted if federal benefits are extended. 

In the meantime, if you need assistance or have any questions regarding extended federal unemployment benefits, or unemployment compensation generally, you should not hesitate to contact any of the labor and employment lawyers at Willig, Williams & Davidson.

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