Over the past few years, a number of companies have moved their operations out of the country to reduce operational costs. Just last year, United Technologies, Cardone, and Dematic all announced that they were moving their operations to Mexico. The move caused over 3,500 American workers to suddenly be out of work.
However, if you lost your job because your company moved its operations to another country, you may be eligible for the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. TAA can help you get back on your feet and get the training you need to find a new job.
What is the Trade Adjustment Assistance program?
TAA is a federal program that has been around for over 40 years. It helps workers negatively affected by foreign trade — for example, their companies moved operations overseas or increased imports from other countries.
Run by the Department of Labor (DOL) and state employment agencies, TAA provides immediate and ongoing assistance to help you transition to a new career.
How TAA can help you
1. Employment and case management services
Your state employment agency will offer you a case manager to help you find employment. To help you toward the goal, your case manager has you complete a skills assessment to identify what career might be a good fit for you.
Once you’ve identified a target field, the case manager creates an employment plan with you that outlines your objectives, goals, and how to make it possible. Your case manager provides you with information on training and educational opportunities, and can even help you apply for financial aid to pay for it.
A case manager will also prepare you for interviews and work on your communication skills so you can transition to a new job. If you need other supportive services, such as counseling, a case manager will connect you to those resources.
2. Job training
If you are unable to find a job similar to the one you had, you may be eligible for additional career training. Eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis for classroom training, on-the-job training, or apprenticeships. If you need additional education, such as completing your GED or an English as a Second Language class, the state covers those costs.
3. Job search and relocation allowances
Job searching can be expensive. From buying a new suit to commuting to job interviews, the cost can add up. Additionally, if you have to move to another city to find a job, moving your family can cost thousands.
The job search allowance provides up to $1,250 in financial assistance while you’re looking for a career. If you need to relocate, the relocation allowance can cover up to 90 percent of your essential moving costs, such as a security deposit on a new home or hiring a moving truck.
4. Readjustment allowance
While you are in training for a new job after a layoff, you likely do not have much income coming in, if any. The trade readjustment allowance provides you with a weekly payment to help cover your living expenses.
To be eligible, you must be able to show that you are regularly attending your classes and that you are making progress toward completing a degree or professional certification.
5. Assistance for older workers
If you are 50 or older, you may be eligible for other benefits, too. If you secure a new job that pays $50,000 or less, the Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance (RTAA) benefit supplements your wages.
RTAA covers up to 50 percent of the difference between your old job’s salary and your new income. For example, if your old salary paid $40,000, and you can only find a new job that pays $30,000, RTAA helps fill the gap. They pay you half of the $10,000 difference, or $5,000. The benefit is limited to a maximum of $10,000 over two years.
How to apply for TAA
To be eligible for TAA, there needs to be a petition. The petition can be filed by:
- Three or more workers in the same firm or subdivision
- The workers’ employer
- A union official
- An American Job Center administrator or state workforce agent
You will need the following to complete the petition:
- Petitioners names and contact information, including phone number
- Approximate or actual date of worker separation
- Employer name and contact information, including phone number
- Contact information for two employer contacts, including names, titles, and phone numbers
To file the petition, you must mail or fax it to both the DOL and your local state agency:
- U.S. Department of Labor: Fax the completed Petition Form to 1-202-693-3585 or mail it to:
U.S. Department of Labor
Office of Trade Adjustment Assistance
200 Constitution Ave NW, Room N-5428
Washington, DC 20210
- State agency: Locate your state agency online or call 1-877-US2-JOBS
Petitioners must file within one year of the layoff. Once the government receives the petition, the DOL launches an investigation to determine if the situation qualifies for TAA. The DOL verifies that workers were let go due to an outsourcing of labor or because of foreign imports.
After filing the petition
Once you file the petition, it can take several weeks for the DOL to investigate your claims and verify the information. The DOL sends you a case number so that you can track its status.
If approved, the state notifies the workers in writing, and provides you with the forms you need to complete to be eligible for TAA benefits. It can take weeks or even months before you receive any financial assistance or other services, so it’s a good idea to file for unemployment right away.
Learning new skills
A layoff can be a scary and disheartening experience. But if you lost your job because your company moved its operations to a new country, or replaced American-made products with imports, the Trade Adjustment Assistance program can provide valuable benefits.
If you’re looking to enter a new field, continuing education programs can help you build the necessary skills. Best of all, many are offered online and are affordable.
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