Do I Need to Apply for an Unemployment Extension When My Claim Balance Is Exhausted?

If you have become unemployed through no fault of your own, you are eligible for unemployment benefits through your home state. Each state is different, and uses an individual formula to calculate how much money you will receive for unemployment. No matter where you live, you have some options when your base unemployment benefit period ends. Benefit extensions provide you with additional weeks of unemployment should you need them. While you don't have to apply, you should if you want to continue to receive an unemployment check.

Base Unemployment

No matter in which state you live, the base unemployment period begins the date you complete an application for benefits. Apply for unemployment benefits immediately if you lose your job, even if your state has a waiting period before the benefits begin. The longer you wait to apply, the longer it may take to be approved. Every state has a different base benefit period in which you receive benefits ranging from 13 to 26 weeks.

State Extensions

Apply for a state extension when your base benefits run out. While every state is different, each offers an extension of unemployment benefits to applicants who have used base benefits through the end date. Fill out an extension application at the same location that processed your original claim; most states do not have additional requirements or a waiting period for an extension. Extensions provide an extra 12 to 20 weeks of unemployment benefits, depending on your home state.

Federal Extensions

State unemployment extensions run for a set period and then expire. If you are still unemployed after your extension period has lapsed, apply for a federal extension through your local benefits office. This type of extension is also called Emergency Unemployment Compensation and varies based on where you live. Receive EUC for up to 34 additional weeks automatically. An additional 20 weeks are available depending on the current rate of unemployment; this benefit becomes available when your state's unemployment rate reaches or exceeds 6 percent.


No matter which unemployment extension you apply for, the basic rules of your state still determine your eligibility. Without exception, you must be looking for work and available for work to receive benefits or extensions, no matter where you live. If your extension application is denied, appeal it at the same location that you filed your original application for unemployment benefits.


  • "The Unemployment Survival Guide"; Jim Stringham and David R Workman; 2004
  • "iJobless: 50 ways to Survive Unemployment"; Jenny Holmes; 2009
  • Unemployment Extension: Home Page

About the Author

Sarah Emerald is the author of books and magazine articles specializing in crafts, family, business and the home, including Create and Decorate, Hilton Head Monthly and Crafts magazine. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from a small private college in the southeastern U.S.