Learn About Trade Adjustment Assistance

Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) may help if you find yourself unemployed due to jobs shifting to a foreign country or the impact of foreign import trade.

The Federal Trade Act provides special benefits at no cost to the employer.

Help available through the TAA act includes training, job search assistance, relocation, reemployment services and monetary help through the Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA) benefit.

TAA benefits are only made available for workers who fall into this very specific category.

This includes those who have exhausted their unemployment insurance compensation and remain unemployed due to foreign trade issues.

Learning to learn how TAA benefits and the TRA program can help you become employed again.

About the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers Program

The Trade Adjustment Assistance Program is overseen by the United States Department of Labor (DOL).

The DOL provides funds to the states for administrative and operational costs, while each state’s workforce commission distributes funds through workforce development boards.

Applicants for the TAA program help must meet the eligibility requirements outlined below. Upon approval, workers will have access to a wide range of benefits, including TAA approved training, career counseling, job search assistance and possible relocation.

Workers who complete the trade adjustment assistance program obtain the skills, resources and credentials needed to become reemployed after being displaced in the global marketplace.

What are Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA) benefits?

Trade readjustment allowance benefits are wage subsidies that help lessen the financial impact of participating in a full-time vocational training program.

In this way, the TRA benefits process functions like the regular unemployment insurance benefit payments process in that it provides you with income support.

However, while receiving TRA benefits, you are training full-time instead of devoting your time to a job search.

TAA unemployment benefits last for the duration of the DOL-approved training program.

This means that benefits can last for a maximum of 104 to 156 weeks, depending on the length of the course of training.

It may be possible to receive this monetary support even if you are not actively in training.

However, you must obtain a waiver from your state. Waivers for TRA benefit payments are generally only issued if you are unable to participate in training due to a health condition, or if an acceptable TAA program is not immediately available to you.

Trade Adjustment Assistance Requirements

Trade adjustment assistance eligibility only applies to workers who have lost a job with a company that is covered by a trade certification issued by the DOL. You may qualify to attend a TAA program at one of many TAA approved schools when suitable work is no longer available for you.

Suitable work refers to a job of equal or higher skill level than the job you lost, and it must also pay at least 80 percent of the average weekly wage.

The DOL will initiate a TAA act investigation to determine if a person or group’s layoff meets their criteria for trade-related circumstances. These trade readjustment act related circumstances may include:

  • Increased levels of imports of services or products.
  • A shift in a company’s production to foreign workers.
  • A business’ loss of connection to a customer with TAA program certified workers.
  • A business certified as “trade injured” by the International Trade Commission (ITC).

How to Apply for TAA Program Benefits

In most cases, a petition for TRA benefits must be submitted by the employer within one year of the worker’s layoff date.

Sometimes, a company will submit a group of trade adjustment assistance petitions if an entire department is adversely affected by foreign trade all at once.

After the DOL investigation, the state’s workforce commission will contact the employer for a list of individual workers or groups of workers and send each person a notice of eligibility for the program.

If eligible to apply for a trade adjustment assistance program, you will receive one of these notices.

It will include a list of TAA program benefits and services, a deadline to apply for benefits and instructions to promptly connect with the nearest workforce solutions office.

After contacting a TAA program workforce solutions career counselor, follow these steps:

  1. Select an occupation and create a reemployment plan with your career counselor.
  2. Find a TAA approved training program that meets all TAA program requirements and also meets your individual reemployment needs.
  3. Meet all the program entrance requirements for your chosen TAA approved school. Note that certain TAA programs may require remedial training, such as GED preparation, English as a second language (ESL), adult basic education or other courses.
  4. Meet with a school advisor to develop a curriculum plan that covers starting and ending dates, costs, and a list of required courses each semester.
  5. Present your TAA program career counselor with your curriculum plan, which should include a list of required books and supplies. (Note that the TAA program does not allow you to pay any part of your tuition, fees, books or supplies needed to complete your program. If you must train beyond the commuting area, the TAA program may also cover your transportation and subsistence costs.)
  6. Get your TAA training plan approved by the career counselor. This could take several weeks.

Responsibilities of TAA Program Providers and Participants

Each side of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program has certain responsibilities to uphold. The TAA program must ensure that you:

  • Learn the skills needed to perform well in your new occupation.
  • Have a TAA program training provider that operates legally in your state and can complete your program within the timeframes outlined by the DOL.
  • Can attend a TAA program training within your commuting area, when possible.
  • Have the physical and mental ability to complete the training program and have the resources you need to succeed.
  • Choose a TAA benefits training program that has the most reasonable costs for your chosen occupation.

Recipients of TAA program training and TRA program benefits are held responsible for the following after training begins. You must:

  • Keep your career counselor updated with progress reports on the schedule he or she requests.
  • Make satisfactory progress through your TAA program training, hit the anticipated training benchmarks, and maintain good academic standing at your TAA school.
  • Not make any changes to your courses or program plan without first getting your career counselor’s approval.

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