Unemployment Insurance as a Potential Safety Net for TANF Leavers: Evidence from Five States. IV: Potential UI Benefit Amounts and Durations Among Former TANF Recipients


In addition to knowing about the extent of potential UI eligibility, it is also useful to know the amount of benefits that eligible claimants can receive, as well as for how long they can receive benefits. Weekly benefit levels are determined individually by each state and typically are set at 40 to 60 percent of the individual’s average weekly wages, up to a maximum. Individuals who attain eligibility for UI can receive benefits once per week for a certain duration based on weeks worked in the base period, usually for a maximum of 26 weeks. In this chapter, we briefly describe the amounts of UI benefits that former TANF recipients who leave welfare for work potentially can receive, the potential duration of the benefits, and the maximum benefit levels.

We found that, across all the sites, potential average UI weekly benefit amounts for former TANF recipients eligible for these benefits were higher than TANF payments. Potential average UI weekly benefit amounts were about $155 to $200 per week. These figures are considerably higher than the TANF benefit amounts in each state, although how much higher depends on the state’s TANF benefit generosity. In addition, because many former TANF recipients have low earnings, only a small number of individuals in the sites would be likely to reach the maximum weekly benefit levels set by their states. Former TANF recipients in Phoenix were the exception, where nearly one in three of those potentially eligible would have their benefits capped below what they would otherwise qualify for.

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