In Wisconsin, unemployed workers who otherwise qualify for benefits may typically collect unemployment insurance benefits for 26 weeks. Since the start of the Great Recession, employees have at times been able to collect benefits for as many as 99 weeks. Currently, individuals who became unemployed in early 2011 may collect benefits in Wisconsin for up to 73 weeks. That can mean up to $26,499 in unemployment benefits for unemployed workers who earn the maximum weekly benefit rate of $363.
The program responsible for the extension of unemployment benefits is the 100% federally funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program. Unemployed workers who exhausted their regular 26 week benefit period before September 1, 2012 are entitled to 20 additional weeks of EUC Tier 1 benefits, and workers who exhaust their regular benefits after September 1, 2012, but before December 22, 2012, are entitled to 14 weeks of Tier 1 EUC benefits. Workers who exhaust their Tier 1 benefits before December 22, 2012 are entitled to an additional 14 weeks of Tier 2 benefits. And those who exhaust their Tier 2 benefits before December 22, 2012 will be entitled to an additional 9 weeks of Tier 3 benefits unless they entered Tier 3 before September 22, 2012, in which case they are eligible for 13 Tier 3 weeks.
Federal legislative action has altered the federal emergency benefit program several times since the beginning of the Great Recession. Unless legislative action is taken shortly after this year's election, the EUC program is scheduled to expire for all employees who would potentially become eligible for its benefits by the end of 2012.
Watch Attorney McLeod in a PBS special about unemployment insurance here.