What Is the Federal Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA)?

The Federal Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA) is a form of supplemental unemployment income made to individuals who have lost their job due to foreign imports and who have also used up their state unemployment benefits. TRA will also provide supplemental income to those who have had hours reduced due to the adverse effect of increased imports. Whether the job loss is related to foreign imports is determined by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) per the Trade Act of 1974.

TRA payments are made through the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, which runs through the end of 2021, unless Congress extends it.

Key Takeaways

  • Federal TRAs are income support payments made to individuals who have exhausted unemployment compensation and whose jobs were directly affected by foreign imports.
  • TRA benefits include paid training for a new job, financial help in searching for a job, or relocation to an area with more jobs.
  • TRA payments which are administered by the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, are in force through the end of 2021 unless renewed by Congress.

How the Federal Trade Readjustment Allowance Works

Sometimes, workers are laid off because their firm downsizes or goes out of business, and through no direct fault of their own (i.e. fired for cause). When this happens, the federal government provides unemployment insurance payments while those affected individuals look for new work.

These payments, however, expire after a certain amount of time, even if no new job has been found. However, if the lack of work has been caused directly by the influence of foreign imports, then the government may extend unemployment payments via a Federal Trade Readjustment Allowance.

Federal Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA) benefits include job training, job search, and financial support. Qualified individuals can begin claiming TRA benefits only after they have used up all of their traditional state and federal unemployment insurance.

For instance, if steelworkers have been laid off and are unable to find work within the window of standard unemployment insurance (UI) coverage, they may be entitled to a TRA benefit if it is determined that cheap Chinese steel imports have directly resulted in those job losses.

Assistance for workers laid off for reasons other than foreign import would be provided by state unemployment agencies and the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA).

Types of Federal Trade Readjustment Allowances

Basic TRA

Basic TRA requires no-cost skills or job training from a TAA-approved provider, unless you obtain a training waiver. Waivers may be granted if the affected individual is unable to participate in or complete training for health reasons or if there is no available training program nearby.

Basic TRA financial support is computed as one's weekly unemployment benefit amount received from their state multiplied by 52 weeks, minus the total amount of UI already received. Thus, Basic TRA payments would not be available to someone who has already received a full year of unemployment.

Additional TRA

Additional TRA may kick in after one exhausts their Basic TRA benefits and still is in need of assistance. This would provide up to 65 more weeks of benefits, conditional on being enrolled in ongoing training.

Completion TRA

Completion TRA provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits if the Additional TRA benefits are exhausted and the affected individual still requires assistance, conditional on continued enrollment in training and have met certain benchmarks resulting from those training programs.

Filing a TRA Claim

To file a TRA claim, an affected person must obtain a petition to apply from their state unemployment agency. The petition for TRA must then be filed with the U.S. Department of Labor for approval. If DOL approves and certifies the petition, the affected workers will be entitled to file a claim under the TAA program.