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Video Transcript - Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) - Workforce Development & Adult Learning

Welcome
The Maryland Department of Labor welcomes you to this video regarding the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, also known as TAA.

This video will provide an overview of this reemployment program, which is available to individuals who lost their jobs due to foreign trade.

Trade services and other workforce development programs are offered through the Maryland American Job Center Network. Whether a person is unemployed, looking for a different job, or interested in getting back into the labor market, American Job Center services are available to anyone, regardless of employment status. We encourage you to visit our website, or stop by one of our centers to learn more. Centers offering Trade services are noted at the end of this video, and the web address will provide you with a listing of all of the American Job Centers.

Thank you and best wishes in your workforce pursuits.

About TAA - What is TAA?
Please note: The Trade program described in this video is based on the 2015 program amendments. If your certification is covered under a previous years’ rules, certain benefits and requirements maybe be different. These will be explained to you by your Maryland Department of Labor representative.

The Trade Adjustment Assistance program provides benefits and services to eligible workers who have lost their jobs as a result of foreign trade. The Trade program is funded by the United States Department of Labor. The Maryland Department of Labor acts as its agent to the state, and provides case management services to program participants.

The primary goal of TAA is to help workers return to suitable employment as quickly as possible. Suitable employment is considered to be work that is of equal or greater skill level to that of your Trade-impacted job, and at least 80 percent of your former pay.

To participate in the Trade program, a petition must be filed with the U. S. Department of Labor for consideration. If the U. S. Department of Labor determines that the company’s workers qualify for Trade Act, it certifies the group of workers, and assigns an impact date and an expiration date.

Once certified, the Maryland Department of Labor works with the company to identify and notify the affected workers of the potential benefits available to them, and how to apply. There is no cost to the employer for these benefits.

Eligibility - Am I Eligible?
To be eligible for TAA, you must be part of the worker group specified in the certification, and during the certification period, experienced a total or partial layoff, or individually, you were in danger of total or partial layoff.

After you file a Trade claim for benefits to the Maryland Department of Labor’s Special Programs Unit, you will receive a determination letter, either approving or denying your request. If denied, you will receive information regarding your appeal rights. If approved, you will be scheduled to meet with a Workforce Development Specialist for a Benefits Rights Interview, and begin assessments and case management services. A customized plan will be developed for you that outlines your best course of action for obtaining suitable employment.

Program Benefits - What are the TAA Program Benefits?
TAA benefits include:

  • Reemployment Services
  • Trade Readjustment Allowances
  • Training
  • Job Search Allowance
  • Relocation Allowance
  • Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance wage subsidy
  • Health Coverage Tax Credit, through the Internal Revenue Service

Let’s look at each one of these benefits in more detail.

Reemployment Services
Reemployment services are available at your local American Job Centers.

Reemployment Services include: career guidance, development of an individualized employment plan, employment workshops, résumé assistance, job search assistance, access to labor market information, career exploration tools, specialized veterans’ services, and more.

Also located in your American Job Centers are Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act services that are separate from Trade Act and may help supplement and support your reemployment needs.

If you have not yet done so, you should register with the Maryland Department of Labor’s Maryland Workforce Exchange (MWE) database at mwejobs.maryland.gov. The Maryland Workforce Exchange is a powerful tool for your job search activities.

Trade Readjustment Allowance
Trade Readjustment Allowance, or TRA, is a weekly income support payment that is available to trade-impacted workers who are enrolled in a full-time, TAA-approved training program, or who have received a waiver of training. To be eligible for TRA, you must have been employed by a TAA-certified employer for at least 26 weeks of the 52 weeks prior to your layoff, and must first exhaust your regular unemployment insurance benefits.

Generally, TRA payment amounts are the same as the Unemployment Insurance you received.

There are three types of TRA support: Basic, Additional, and Completion.
Basic TRA provides 26 weeks of benefits if you are enrolled in full-time TAA approved training, have a waiver of training, or have completed TAA-approved training and are conducting a job search.

Additional TRA provides up to 65 weeks of benefits if you are actively participating in full-time training and need additional income support to finish your training.

Completion TRA provides an extra 13 weeks of benefits if needed to complete training that will result in a degree or industry recognized credential, and upon successful completion of all training benchmarks.

TRA Training Enrollment Deadline
If you are eligible for TRA, you will be given a training enrollment deadline, which is specified in the TRA determination letter you received.

You may not receive TRA after your training enrollment deadline passes unless you enroll in TAA-approved training before the deadline, or receive a waiver of the training requirement. If you miss your applicable deadline through no fault of your own, you may still qualify for TRA. Your workforce development specialist at the American Job Center will explain the options available to you.

Waiver of Training
A waiver may be issued if, after an assessment of your employment and training needs, training is not suitable and appropriate. If you receive a waiver, you may still be eligible to receive Basic TRA. However, you cannot collect additional or completion TRA while on a waiver.

There are 3 types of waivers. A waiver may be issued:

  • If you are unable to complete training due to a health condition;
  • If no training program is available; or
  • If an enrollment date for training is not immediately available.

If you receive a waiver of training, in order to maintain eligibility for basic TRA, you must fulfill a work search requirement until you are enrolled in training. This entails making a sustained effort to obtain work and reporting work search activities each week.

Your Workforce Development Specialist must conduct a waiver review every 30 days while the waiver is in effect to make sure the waiver conditions are still applicable.

Once your waiver is no longer in effect, to qualify for any remaining TRA you must be enrolled in TAA-approved training by a certain time period, which is the Monday of the first week occurring 30 days after the waiver ends.

Weekly Claims for TRA
You may file your weekly claim certification any day of the week, Sunday through Friday, after the week for which you are requesting benefits. Each weekly TRA claim must be submitted no later than 5:00 pm EST on Friday for the previous week. Failure to file within this time frame may cause a delay or denial of benefits. TRA claims must be accompanied by a training attendance form which can be faxed to 410-767-2615 or mailed to the Special Programs Office, 1100 N. Eutaw Street, Room 500, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, or details about your job-seeking efforts if you have a waiver of training.

TRA Job Search Requirements
Generally, you must contact a minimum of three employers per week. You are required to accept any offer of suitable work within your capabilities. You must consider other types of work, including work below your highest skill level, and work that pays lower wages.

You must also keep a record of your job-seeking efforts that includes the date of the employer contact, the company name and address, and your method of contact.

Training
If you and your workforce development specialist determine that you would benefit from training, you will work together to develop a plan that best suits your needs and employment goals.

Several different types of training can be approved under TAA. These are:

  • Occupational skills or vocational training, which includes college-level degree or certificate programs and the necessary prerequisite courses, as well as apprenticeable trades;
  • Remedial education, which includes Adult Basic Education, General Educational Development, and English as a Second Language;
  • Employer-based training, which is on-the-job training, or training customized to the needs of a specific employer or group of employers. For customized training, an employer must contribute at least 50 percent of the training cost and promise to employ you when training ends.

TAA will pay for 100 percent of tuition, course fees, books, required supplies and equipment, and transportation, as well as other items or services necessary for you to complete an approved occupational skills training program.

For a TAA training plan to be approved, six requirements must be met.

  • There must be no suitable employment available to you.
  • The training is reasonably available from either governmental or private sources.
  • There is reasonable expectation of employment once you complete the training.
  • You have the background, education, skills or experience needed to succeed in the training.
  • You have the physical, mental, and financial capabilities needed to complete the training.
  • The training is suitable for you and available at reasonable cost.

First, you will need to look for training in your local commuting area. If you are unable to find training locally, you can be reimbursed for mileage if you travel over 50 miles one way from your home to the training facility.

If the training is located beyond a commutable distance and you have to stay somewhere other than your primary residence, a subsistence allowance is available to cover expenses such as lodging and meals. This subsistence allowance must be preapproved.

Training should be of the shortest duration necessary to enable your return to work. A maximum of 130 weeks in training is allowed.

A training plan submission must include Labor Market Information data showing there is limited potential of returning to work in your most recent job category, and that there is growth in the field in which you are requesting training.

The plan must also include documented training benchmarks. Two criteria benchmarks will be evaluated: 1) satisfactory academic standing, and 2) on track to complete training within the agreed upon timeframe. Reviews with your Workforce Development Specialist must take place every 60 days. Successful completion of these benchmarks is also a condition of receiving completion TRA.

Incumbent Worker Training
Training may be approved before you separate from employment. You must be certified as eligible to apply for TAA benefits and determined to be individually in danger of total or partial separation. While participating in incumbent worker training, TRA is not available because you are still employed.

On-the-Job Training
On-the-Job Training is when an employer is willing to hire and train you for a job different than the one from which you were separated. In On-the-Job Training, the employer will be reimbursed up to 50 percent of a worker’s new wage.

Although you may have received TRA prior to training, if you are participating in an On-the-Job Training program, you are considered an employee of the hiring company and you are not eligible for TRA benefits.

Your On-the-Job Training plan may include multiple components, including online classes, but you are only allowed one training plan under a single certification, and it must result in a credential.

For example, On-the-Job Training may be one component of a training plan that also involves classroom training, remedial education or both, as long as all components are consistent with the occupational goal established by your reemployment plan, and all TAA approval criteria are met.

You must comply with specific rules and responsibilities to remain eligible to participate and receive training benefits. Before you begin training, you will be given documentation that specifies these rules and responsibilities.

For example, before you make any changes to your training ---such as dropping a course --- you must first discuss it with your workforce development specialist.

In addition, you will be required to provide grades, progress reports, transcripts and diplomas and certifications during your training. It is part of the Maryland Department of Labor’s responsibility to the US Department of Labor to monitor your program at periodic intervals.

Failure to comply could result in a suspension or termination of your program, and the potential of having to pay back funds already spent.

Job Search Allowance
A job search allowance provides reimbursement for pre-approved travel, meals and lodging expenses that may be necessary for you to attend an interview or secure employment. Reimbursable expenses include restaurant receipts, parking expenses, gas, and hotel rooms. One or more trips are permitted, as long as the interviews are for suitable employment and the requests are pre-approved.

The job search allowance covers 90 percent of allowable costs while you are seeking work outside your commuting area, up to $1,250.

Reimbursement is subject to the limitations of the prevailing per diem rate authorized under federal travel regulations for the locality where the job search is conducted.

To be eligible for the job search allowance, you must be found to lack suitable work opportunities within your commuting area, defined as within 50 miles from your home.

Application instructions and requirements are available from your Workforce Development Specialist.

Relocation Allowance
The relocation allowance covers reimbursement for pre-approved expenses related to moving you, your family, and your household goods to a location where you have obtained suitable employment. The allowance covers 90 percent of all reasonable and necessary relocation expenses. Additionally, you may receive a lump sum payment equal to three times your average weekly wage, up to a maximum of $1,250.

To be eligible for a relocation allowance, there must be no suitable work opportunities within your commuting area. You must receive a bona fide offer of work within the United States that requires relocation outside your commuting area, and provides a reasonable expectation of long-term employment.

Travel and moving allowances are subject to limitations imposed by federal travel regulations.

Application instructions and requirements are available from your Workforce Development Specialist.

Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance
Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance, or RTAA, provides a wage supplement benefit for trade-impacted workers age 50 and older who obtain lower-paying work. RTAA can provide up to 50 percent of the difference between your former, trade-impacted wage and your new wage, and help bridge the salary gap between the old and new employment.

To be eligible, you must be employed full-time, or part-time if working at least 20 hours per week while participating in full-time TAA-approved training. Your eligibility period begins when you exhaust your unemployment insurance, or begin your new job – whichever is sooner.

RTAA payments may not exceed $10,000 during a two-year eligibility period. If you receive any TRA, your RTAA eligibility period will be reduced by the number of weeks you received TRA.

Your new work cannot pay more than $50,000 per year excluding overtime, or be with the same firm or subdivision specified by your Trade Act certification.

Once you receive RTAA, you may not resume filing for unclaimed TRA. Application instructions and requirements are available from your Workforce Development Specialist.

Health Coverage Tax Credit
Health Coverage Tax Credit or HCTC is a program operated by the Internal Revenue Service that covers 72.5 percent of qualifying health insurance premium costs. If you are an eligible TAA or RTAA recipient, you may be able to claim this credit. For more information, visit the IRS website: www.irs.gov

The following is a list of American Job Centers that provide Trade Act Assistance services.
For a complete list of American Job Centers in Maryland, please visit http://www.dllr.maryland.gov/county/.

Frequently Asked Questions
The following are frequently asked questions about the Trade program. Your Trade Adjustment Assistance caseworker can provide more information, while additional details about the program can be found on the U. S. Department of Labor site: www.doleta.gov/tradeact

What if I decide to take a new job while in training?
TAA training is intended to expedite your return to suitable employment. Therefore, there may be implications if you accept employment during training and achieve the program’s goal earlier than expected. You must report any employment to your TAA counselor because work obtained during training may affect your eligibility for TAA benefits.

What happens if I move out of state?
You may take your Trade benefits to your new state. You will need to work with TAA representatives from both states before and after moving.

Do I need to be in training full time?
To be eligible for basic Trade Readjustment Allowance payments, you must be participating in training on a full-time basis, have been issued a waiver, or have completed training. You may be able to attend part-time training, but you will not be eligible for TRA.

What is considered full time training?
Generally, 12 credits per semester is considered full time. Ultimately, however, full time is defined by the training provider.

What does enrolled in training actually mean?
“Enrolled in training” means you have been accepted into a training program, it has been approved by the TAA program, and begins within 30 days of approval.

What if I fail a class?
Under certain circumstances, TAA may pay for a retake of a failed class if it is required to complete your training. Your TAA representative will work with you if the situation rises.

What if I quit training?
Before quitting or making any changes to your approved training plan, make sure to consult with your TAA representative. Modifying your plan without pre-approval could result in your training being suspended or rescinded, and you may be required to pay back funds already spent.

What if I don’t want to go to training?
If you are not enrolled in training or issued a waiver prior to your enrollment date deadline, you may no longer qualify for TRA benefits. However, you may still be eligible for other TAA benefits, such as Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance, Job Search Allowance or Relocation Allowance.

What if I pay for my training?
Certain grants, company funds and other financial aid can be applied to the cost of your training. However, TAA does not allow participants to pay for training using personal funds, including student loans.

What schools can I attend?
Your TAA representative will help you determine the best fit for you based on your specific circumstances.

Can I sign up for training now?
To qualify for training benefits under TAA, you must be pre-approved before registering for any training or individual classes.