Unemployment benefits deal drops weeks by 26

Only five states will still qualify for those EB benefits after June, according to research by NELP. 

The determination is based on what is called a three-year look back — the unemployment rate needs to be 110 percent of what it was on average in any of the three prior years. At his point, most states have seen improved employment situations and won't qualify.

There are about 512,000 eligible for the EB program, according to NELP. 

But if states lose access to that EB program in the first five months of the year — 21 states are set to go off those rolls — unemployed workers can receive an additional 10 weeks of benefits as part of the extended unemployment compensation (EUC) program, the Democratic aide said.

The Obama administration had outlined in its jobs bill last fall that the EB program would be allowed to expire this year, bringing the maximum down to 79 weeks. 

Then in September, jobless rates to qualify for benefits are expected to increase, rising from 8.5 percent to 9 percent, making it more difficult for states to qualify, bringing the maximum down further to 73 under the extended unemployment compensation program (EUC). 

A Republican aide emphasized that only residents in states with at least 9 percent unemployment would be eligible for up to 73 weeks. The vast majority of states, the aide said, may only qualify for a maximum of 63 weeks by the fall.

Workers who exhaust their state benefits, a maximum of 26 weeks, move to the EUC program, put into place in 2008, that provides either 34 and 53 weeks of benefits based on the level of unemployment in the state. 

From there, unemployed workers in states that qualify move into the EB program, the one fading out this year, which offers 13 or 20 additional weeks, which has given some beneficiaries up to 99 weeks of unemployment checks. 

Right now, 22 states are eligible for 93-plus weeks of unemployment insurance, with 17 getting the full maximum of 99 weeks, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. 

Five other states — Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and South Carolina — all qualify and have offered the full 99 weeks in the past, but have since reduced the amount of time beneficiaries can collect. 

Illinois, which has a 9.8 percent jobless rate, is offering 97 total weeks for those filing first time unemployment claims after Jan. 1, cutting down state benefits to 25 weeks. 

Mississippi, which has a 10.4 percent rate of unemployment, provides 79 weeks of benefits.