Other Unemployment Benefits and Assistance Programs

The federal unemployment program provides standard and emergency unemployment assistance. More importantly, however, it also offers programs designed to meet the needs of those whose lives have been disrupted by natural disasters.

Emergency unemployment compensation can help workers remain stable during periods of extreme unemployment in their home states. Special programs offer supplemental assistance to veterans and former federal employees.

In addition, Unemployment Insurance (UI) programs recognize that technology and lifestyle shifts are rapidly changing the nature of work many fields. This can leave unemployed workers poorly equipped to find stable, profitable new jobs. To compensate, state UI authorities universally offer youth, senior and veteran employment programs that train and prepare workers to succeed in frontline industries that offer consistent, good-paying jobs. Understanding and taking advantage of these programs can be a critical first step to finding and thriving in a secure, good-paying job.

Programs for Veterans and Former Federal Workers

Veterans and former federal civilian employees qualify for UI assistance not available to other workers. The availability and duration of these benefits varies from state-to-state and between applicants and programs. In almost all cases, workers must have been separated from employment through no fault of their own and/or honorably discharged to qualify.

UI programs that serve these populations include:

  • Unemployment Compensation for Former Federal Civilian Employees. Workers who were formerly employed in federal civilian positions and understand how to meet eligibility criteria can receive benefits for up to 26 weeks, separate and distinct from their states’ standard UI program.
  • Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers. Qualifying former members of the U.S. military or the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) can complete the service member benefits application process. These benefits may be available in place of or in addition to the benefits available under regular UI programs.
  • Veterans’ Employment Assistance Programs. The Veterans’ Affairs Department, together with other governmental bodies and non-governmental partners, offers a variety of programs for veterans. Some focus on training, skills and supports that assist veterans in transitioning to the civilian working world or completing their educations. Others emphasize job search resources and connect unemployed military veterans to businesses seeking to hire former servicemembers.

Programs to Retool the Workforce

In addition to offering unemployment assistance to keep families and communities stable during times of unemployment, federal and state authorities offer a variety of interlinked programs intended to help disadvantaged workers. These programs are run in conjunction with UI benefits and help workers whose jobs have been permanently discontinued or altered gain the skills and education they need to successfully adapt to the new realities of their fields. In some cases, training programs prepare participants to switch from non-lucrative, low-demand fields to more stable, high-demand careers.

Related Article: Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers

Chief among these programs are:

  • The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program. The TAA program facilitates the reeducation and retraining of workers whose jobs have been permanently and negatively impacted by foreign imports or outsourcing. Most qualifying participants will come from federally-recognized manufacturing, service or public sectors jobs. Applicants can expect to receive financial support while enrolled in TAA approved training programs and assistance locating jobs upon graduation.
  • The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The WIOA program realigned and bolstered education and employment resources nationwide to create new opportunities for workers. Program initiatives vary but emphasize 21st century skills and preparation for economic self-sufficiency.
  • Self-Employment Assistance. Currently offered by only a handful of states, SEA seeks to help unemployed workers with a low probability of finding successful new employment create their own through Program requirements vary from state to state, but the program can offer rare opportunities for otherwise struggling workers who are otherwise likely to run out of unemployment before securing a new job.

Emergency Assistance

Emergency unemployment benefits extensions at the state level can be implemented by UI authorities any time a state’s unemployment level reaches and lingers at a federally-defined percentage for at least 13 consecutive weeks. During emergency unemployment extensions, workers who have exhausted their standard benefits may qualify for continuing benefits.

Extension periods may only go into effect for short periods of time and no extension period can be initiated less than 14 weeks after the end of a previous extension period. Federally-funded unemployment extensions, in which all benefits are paid solely by federal funds, are rare but possible in the event of nation-wide economic stress.

Emergency unemployment assistance may also come in the form of the FEMA Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program. DUA provides FEMA-supplied funding to workers unemployed as the result of nationally recognized natural disasters. Disaster unemployment benefits can only be requested by workers who are ineligible for standard UI benefits.

Help for Youth, Seniors and Workers with Disabilities

Numerous local, state and federal programs exist to provide job training for seniors, youth employment services and vocational training for disabled adults. Eligibility criteria, benefits availability and enrollment procedures differ between programs, but all programs share the goal of helping participants gain the job skills, experience and work they need to become and remain gainfully and steadily employed. Examples of these programs include:

  • The Senior Community Service Employment Program. SCSEPconnects low-income seniors 55 years of age or older to part-time employment opportunities with community organizations or government agencies. Applicants receive training and gain work experience they can use to transition into other employment opportunities at their own paces.
  • Summer Youth Employment Program. SYEP creates work opportunities for youth and young adults for brief windows of time during the months of July and August. Program positions are paid and give participants entry-level work experience in a variety of fields. In addition, applicants have access to career exploration and job readiness education that prepare them for successful careers.
  • Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program. This work program for disabled adults provides vocational training and rehabilitation to improve disabled workers’ access to quality employment. It also connects participants to resources and supports they can use to find and keep good jobs.

Workers can access these and other programs through their states’ UI offices or one-stop career centers.

Related Article: Employment and Training Programs

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