Congress authorizes extended unemployment benefits in the form of payments to workers who have already received compensation for the maximum number of weeks available in their state. This extension of unemployment compensation is available during periods of high employment in a given state.
Each state has some discretion over the number of weeks in its standard unemployment compensation package, though the federal maximum is 26 weeks. An unemployed worker may seek benefits during the allotted time period in her state, after which the Extended Benefits program kicks in. As of 2015, no state has a rate of unemployment high enough to qualify for the Extended Benefits program.