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  • On February 22, 2012, President Obama signed the “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012”. Among other things, this act provides Pennsylvania unemployed workers with funding for the Extended Benefits up until December 31, 2012. Unfortunately for long term unemployed workers this does not mean Extended Benefits payments will continue until that date. Unemployment rate forecasts predict the unemployment rate in Pennsylvania will fall below the trigger level for Extended Benefits towards the end of April 2012 and stop altogether by the middle of May, 2012.

    The May trigger off date applies to regular Extended Benefits payments. If you are on High Unemployment Period Extended Benefits payments, you may have already received your last unemployment benefits check. Confused? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. This article will review the implications of the “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012” and the effects of relatively low unemployment in Pennsylvania on the maximum number of benefits weeks unemployed workers are eligible for.

    Regular Extended Benefits

    The regular extended benefits will trigger off in April 2012, if the employment market continues to improve as predicted. This means long term unemployed workers may receive their last check on the week ending on May 12, 2012. This will ultimately depend on the Pennsylvania unemployment rate and how it compares with the unemployment rate of the same period in the last few years. The maximum number of weeks in this week for eligible workers is 13 weeks.

    State High Unemployment Period Extended Benefits

    Due to the especially high unemployment rate during the recession years, the government authorized an extension of extended benefits for states with high unemployment rates of 7 weeks. The recovery Pennsylvania has seen during the last year means Pennsylvania workers are no longer eligible for high unemployment period, or HUP, extended benefits. The end of these benefits occurred on the week ending on February 18, 2012. This also includes workers who were receiving these benefits and still had weeks of high unemployment period benefits remaining on their claim.

    Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or EUC

    The EUC benefits will continue until the end of 2012 just as long Pennsylvania’s total unemployment rate, or TUR, does not fall below the trigger off rate. As of now, the total unemployment rate of Pennsylvania is not known. As of now, it is likely that Pennsylvania will qualify for EUC tiers 1 to 3, which only require an unemployment rate of 7 percent or higher. Tiers 1,2 and 3 provides unemployed workers with a maximum of 47 weeks. However if the unemployment rate drops below 7 percent, workers will only qualify for tiers 1 and 2, which provide a maximum of 34 weeks.

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