The start of the New Year marks the implementation of a new federal tax bill signed by President Obama in December, which includes a 13-month extension for unemployment benefits. However, eligibility to receive these extended benefits requires more than simply being out of a job; state unemployment rates and the duration of an individual’s unemployment factor in to who obtains the aid.
Extended benefits vary according to individual state unemployment rates. In order to collect benefits for the maximum period of 99 weeks, the average state’s unemployment rate must be above 8.5% for three months. The lower the rate, the more limited the benefits: residents of Alaska, Delaware and Massachusetts will not have access to the maximum extended benefits because their rates are all below 8.5% - residents of these states will get 86 weeks, 93 weeks, and 93 weeks, respectively. Similarly, residents of Vermont and New Hampshire are only eligible for up to 60 weeks because their average rate has fallen below 6%.
While the new law restores the 99-week maximum for states which do meet the rate requirement, it does not provide further benefits to residents who previously reached the limit of their unemployment benefits.