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What are the Benefits of Unemployment Insurance?

Regular benefits last for 26 weeks in most states. The average benefit is about $346. For most workers, this means a replacement rate of about 40% of their wages.

Extended benefits are available during times of high unemployment. This part of the program is geared to help workers who are having extra difficulty finding work because of the persistence of the economic downturn. An additional 13 weeks of benefits is available after an individual has exhausted his, or her maximum regular benefit period of 26 weeks. Some states have a voluntary program under which they pay an additional seven weeks of extra benefits, making a maximum period of 20 weeks for extended benefits.

During the recent recession, Congress enacted Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation (TEUC), which provided an additional 13 weeks of coverage on a nationwide basis to all workers who exhausted their regular benefits.

Example: John Jones has been laid off from his factory job. He has used his regular 26 weeks of benefits. Because he is in a state with a high level of unemployment, he qualifies for an additional 13 weeks, bringing his total benefit period to 39 weeks. In addition, Congress has approved a temporary extension of unemployment compensation for any worker who used all benefits and is still searching for a job. This provides another 13 weeks. If Jones is still jobless, he can use these 13 weeks of benefits, giving him a total of 52 weeks of unemployment insurance payments.