Being unemployed can be a very stressful time that is only made worse when your unemployment benefits run out. People who spend their unemployed time doing everything they can to find a job often feel like their effort means that they should be able to be on unemployment until they find work. But most people don’t realize that unemployment benefits depend on state regulations and state employment figures, which means that even the most ardent job hunter could be left out if they do not find a job.
Unemployment Benefits – Tier 1
The chart used to determine eligibility for unemployment benefits is broken down into four tiers. Every person in the country who applies for unemployment and has a qualifying reason for losing their job (they were laid off, the company closed, etc.) is entitled to tier one benefits, which run for 14 weeks. During that 14 weeks, you are expected to make every effort to find employment and work through your state’s Department of Labor to find some sort of work.
Unemployment Benefits – Tier 2
If you have not found a job within the 14 weeks of tier one, then you might be able to apply for a tier two extension. Your ability to qualify for this next 14-week extension is not based on anything you did, but rather on your state’s unemployment rate. If your state’s unemployment rate is at or higher than the set minimum, then you may be successful in extending your benefits another 14 weeks.
Unemployment Benefits – Tier 3
Tier three unemployment benefits run for an additional nine weeks, but your state’s unemployment rate must be slightly higher than the minimum for tier two. The federal government may be willing to extend your benefits if you live in a state where the unemployment rate makes finding a job more challenging.
Unemployment Benefits – Tier 4
If your state’s unemployment rate is among the highest in the country, then you might be able to qualify for extended tier four unemployment benefits.
Exhausting Your Benefits
The maximum amount of time any state will pay unemployment benefits is 26 weeks. In 2013, the United States Congress voted to extend the maximum amount of weeks that someone can collect unemployment paid by the federal government to 73 weeks. Once those 73 weeks have been exhausted, you are no longer eligible for benefits.
The best way to get extended unemployment benefits is to live in a state that has a very high unemployment rate. Otherwise, your benefits could be stopped after 14 weeks and there may be nothing you can do to change that.