How to Understand Federal Unemployment Extended Benefits

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Unemployment insurance provides payments to individuals who have lost their jobs. If laid off, you can apply for unemployment benefits through your state. Each state administers an unemployment program that lasts a predetermined period, usually 20 to 26 weeks. However, in difficult economic times when jobs are scarce, the federal government may provide additional funding beyond this timeframe. This is the federal unemployment extended benefits. Though federally funded, administration of this program is at the state level.

Read the brochure or letter your state sent to you regarding your unemployment compensation claim. If you have exhausted the state benefits, the letter will provide information about the federal extended benefits.

Read More: The Deadline to File Unemployment

Go to the website of the state agency that manages unemployment compensation in your state. This agency may be your state’s labor and industry or employment department. The site will have information about eligibility, tiers, timelines and applying for the federal unemployment extended benefits. Visit to find a link to your state's office.

Call the agency in your state that manages unemployment compensation. Representatives are trained to answer questions and help you understand the federal unemployment extended benefits. Write down your questions before you call. Find the phone number of the agency on their website or in the original letter sent notifying you of your benefits.

Visit the Department of Labor’s website for current information about federal extensions for unemployment benefits. This federal site will provide details about any acts that the federal government has signed that provides funding for extended payments.

Go to your local unemployment office to meet with a representative who can help explain the unemployment compensation process, including the state benefits and the federal extensions. Some states allow for in-person appointments or meetings during specific hours.