What Are Extended Unemployment Benefits?

Definition

Extended unemployment benefits are additional weeks of unemployment compensation that are available to workers who have exhausted regular unemployment insurance benefits during periods of high unemployment.

Unemployed worker completes an application on living room floor with laptop
Photo:

DaniloAndjus / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

  • Many employees find that they're still out of work when their unemployment benefits expire, so the federal government will step in to extend their benefits during times of high unemployment.
  • These extended benefits tend to go to states with the highest unemployment rates.
  • Extended unemployment can last from an additional seven to 20 weeks, depending on your state.
  • Your state's unemployment office should notify you if you're eligible for extended benefits, or you can check your state office's website for information.

In times of high unemployment, the federal government provides funds to states to extend their unemployment insurance programs for additional weeks of benefits beyond what each state normally offers.

If you've exhausted your unemployment benefits or you're worried about your benefits running out, there may be extended benefits funded by the federal government that will provide unemployment compensation beyond the maximum number of weeks provided by your state.

How Extended Unemployment Benefits Work

Extended benefits are additional weeks of unemployment compensation that are available to workers who have exhausted regular unemployment insurance benefits during periods of high unemployment. The basic Extended Benefits (EB) program provides up to 13 additional weeks of unemployment compensation when a state is experiencing high unemployment.

In some states, there may be an additional seven additional weeks (20 weeks maximum) of extended benefits during periods of extremely high unemployment.

The federal government may provide additional benefits to people who have exhausted their unemployment benefits. There are additional weeks of federally funded Extended Benefits (EB) in states with high unemployment rates.

Unemployed workers are eligible for up to 13 or 20 weeks of additional unemployment benefits, depending on state laws, and the unemployment rate.

These benefits are paid through the state unemployment departments, and eligibility would start when all other benefits are exhausted. Your state unemployment office should notify you if you're eligible.

Note

Check with your state's unemployment office for information on eligibility requirements and the availability of extended benefits in your location. You can find a directory of offices on the Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop Unemployment Benefits Finder.

How To Get Extended Unemployment Benefits

How you'll collect extended benefits will vary based on your state. In some states, you won’t need to do anything. You'll automatically be paid for the additional weeks. You may have to apply in other states.

  • If you're currently collecting unemployment benefits: Benefits are provided through the state unemployment offices, and information on eligibility will be posted online. You'll be advised on how to collect when your regular unemployment benefits end if you're eligible. 
  • If you've exhausted unemployment benefits: Long-term unemployed workers who have already exhausted state unemployment benefits may also be eligible for additional weeks of benefits. Check with your state unemployment website for eligibility criteria in your location.

You'll receive the same amount that you received for regular unemployment compensation if you're eligible for extended unemployment benefits. The number of weeks you'll receive depends on your state unemployment rate and it may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I qualify for an unemployment extension?

You won't be eligible for an extension until your regular benefits run out, but your state's unemployment office should advise you as to what you should do to apply as this deadline draws near. You can also check your state's website for its own qualifying rules.

How long can you collect unemployment?

Workers in most states are eligible for 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits, although nine states provide less than 26 weeks and two provide more, as of August 2022. Florida and North Carolina provide only 12. Extended benefits for an additional seven to 20 weeks can kick in when these time periods end.

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Sources
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Department of Labor. "Unemployment Insurance Extended Benefits."

  2. U.S. Department of Labor. "How Do I File for Unemployment Insurance?"

  3. Center on Budget Policy and Priorities. "Policy Basics: How Many Weeks of Unemployment Compensation Are Available?"

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