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Fact Sheet 102 - Trade Readjustment Allowances
Help for those affected by foreign competition
Workers who lose their jobs or whose hours of work and wages are reduced because of foreign competition may apply for federal assistance through the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. Among the benefits they may receive are weekly Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA), which are payable once they exhaust state unemployment benefits and any extended benefits. Usually, TRA will only be paid if an individual is enrolled in an approved training program.
Applying for Trade Readjustment Allowances
A worker may apply for TRA at any time. However, if the workers covered under the petition are not yet certified, the Unemployment Insurance Agency will hold the application, pending USDOL’s determination on the petition.
Workers should contact an MWA Service Center to file their TRA applications immediately after being advised that they are covered under a certification. Delays in applying could result in not being eligible for TRA.
To be eligible for additional weeks of TRA, workers must apply for training approved under the Trade Act of 1974, as amended, within 210 days of their last separation during the certification period (see below) or within 210 days of the certification date, whichever is later.
Qualifying for Trade Readjustment Allowances
- Workers must be laid off due to lack of work.
- Their layoffs must occur on or after the “impact date” of the certification and before its expiration or termination date. This is called the “certification” or “window” period.
- Workers must also have had enough qualifying employment with the affected employer. They must have been employed at least 26 weeks, with weekly wages of at least $30.00, during the 52 weeks ending with the week of separation. Up to seven weeks of employer-authorized leave may be counted as part of the 26 qualifying weeks. Also, up to 26 weeks of disability benefits paid under a state or federal law can be used to qualify for TRA, as well as 26 weeks of active duty time served by a military reservist.
- A worker must either be participating in, or enrolled in, training, or must have received a waiver of this training requirement. “Enrolled” means the worker will begin training approved under the Trade Act within 30 days. Workers must enroll, or have a waiver completed, by the end of: (1) the eighth week following the week that USDOL issues a certification; or (2) the end of the 16th week following the worker’s last qualifying separation (see Waiver of training).
Waiver of Training
During the first series of TRA payments (known as "basic TRA"), workers must be in a training program unless that requirement is waived (set aside). However, to receive any additional weeks of TRA, the requirement cannot be waived and workers must be in training. MWA offices process training approvals and waivers.
Weekly Amount of TRA Payable
Workers are paid TRA at the same weekly benefit amount they received in regular state benefits after their first qualifying separation.
Basic TRA Weeks and Eligibility Period
The eligibility period for basic TRA is 104 weeks. If training includes remedial education, the eligibility period is extended to 130 weeks. If workers have a later qualifying layoff due to foreign competition, (that is, a layoff that meets the requirements described above under Qualifying for Trade Readjustment Allowances), the 104/130-week period will be extended to run from that later layoff.
Workers start with a potential of 52 weeks of basic TRA. However, all weeks of entitlement to regular unemployment benefits from the unemployment claim already in effect, or established after their first qualifying separation, will be deducted from their total weeks of basic TRA payable. All weeks of entitlement to state or federal extensions based on that unemployment claim will also be deducted. For example, a person who receives 20 weeks of regular unemployment benefits would be entitled to 32 weeks of basic TRA. And, if that person received 20 weeks of an extension based on that same unemployment claim, the basic TRA entitlement is reduced to six weeks.
Additional TRA Weeks and Eligibility Period
The eligibility period for additional TRA begins after either: (1) workers exhaust their basic TRA entitlement; or (2) the eligibility period for basic TRA ends; whichever occurs first. For additional TRA, workers must be participating in training approved under the Trade Act. The additional TRA eligibility period lasts for 52 consecutive weeks or until the end of approved training, whichever occurs first.
Remedial TRA Weeks and Eligibility Period
If training includes remedial education and workers are still in TAA-approved training after being paid basic and additional TRA, another set of additional TRA is payable at the rate of one week of TRA per each week of remedial education – up to 26 weeks. This additional set of benefits is sometimes called remedial TRA.
All the filing requirements and eligibility requirements that apply to collecting regular state unemployment benefits also apply to TRA. In addition, workers who are not participating in approved training must list two places where they sought employment for each week they claim basic TRA. The availability, ability, and seeking work requirements are waived for workers participating in TAA-approved training.
The Trade Act of 1974, as amended in 2002, authorized an Alternative TAA (ATAA) program for older workers; which provides a wage differential of up to $10,000 for up to two years. The program is for those 50 years or older who obtain different full-time employment within 26 weeks of separation from adversely-affected employment at wages less than those earned in the adversely-affected employment and projected to be less than $50,000 a year.
If you have any questions about TRA benefits, call the TRA Unit at 1-866-500-0017.