The TAA program for workers was first established at the DOL by the Trade Act of 1974, and has been amended several times over the past thirty-five years. The latest amendments are contained in the 2009 Act, which is part of the Recovery Act. The 2009 Act overhauls the TAA program and expands TAA coverage to more workers and firms, including workers and firms in the service sector, and improves workers' opportunities for training, health insurance coverage, and reemployment. Section 1856 of the 2009 Amendments contains the sense of Congress as it applies the TAA programs: "the Secretaries of Labor, Commerce, and Agriculture should apply the provisions of [their respective trade adjustment assistance programs] with the utmost regard for the interests of workers, firms, communities, and farmers petitioning for benefits." These operating instructions reflect this intent.
DOL expects the CSAs to implement these instructions in accordance with that intent. Many aspects of the process for determining group and individual eligibility for TAA have been reformed by the 2009 Amendments. These amendments, as addressed in these operating instructions, apply to workers covered by petitions for adjustment assistance filed on or after May 18, 2009. Workers covered by petitions filed on or before May 17, 2009, are subject to the provisions of the 2002 Act as described in the Operating Instructions provided in TEGL No. 11-02 and its changes, and TEGL No. 2-03 and its changes. These provisions remain in full force and effect as participants who are certified under the 2002 Act continue to seek and receive services and benefits under those provisions. This is true for all workers separated from adversely affected employment before the expiration of a certification based on a petition filed on or before May 17, 2009.
Under the provisions of the 2002 Act, DOL receives petitions for TAA filed by an employer, a one-stop operator or one-stop partner (as defined in section 101 of the WIA), 29 U.S.C. 2801, a State dislocated worker unit established under title I of WIA, a group of workers, or their authorized representative. DOL conducts fact-finding investigations of these petitions to determine whether increased imports have contributed importantly to the workers' displacement, or if the workers have been affected by certain shifts in production. States make available rapid response and appropriate core and intensive services under WIA and assist DOL in reviewing the petitions. If the findings of an investigation show that the workers have been adversely affected by increased imports or a shift in production of articles, the Secretary of Labor issues a certification of eligibility to apply for adjustment assistance. Once a certification is issued, notice of the certification, including the reason for certification, is transmitted to the State and the petitioner, published in the Federal Register, and posted on the DOL website.
Under an agreement executed by the Secretary of Labor and the State, the CSA acts as the agent of the Secretary to notify certified workers of potential TAA benefits and services, make eligibility determinations for individuals, and deliver benefits and services. Individual workers who are members of the certified worker group apply for benefits and services at a One-Stop Career Center or other local office of the CSA. Individual workers who meet the qualifying criteria may receive job training, income support in the form of TRA, job search allowances, HCTC, a wage supplement in the form of ATAA (now RTAA), and relocation allowances. In addition, all workers covered by a certification are eligible for reemployment services including job referrals, job clubs, and resume-writing assistance. The 2009 Amendments amend the provisions of the 2002 Act in several substantial ways:
Group Eligibility Extended to Include:
- Workers in firms that supply services;
- Workers whose firm has shifted production to any foreign country;
- Workers in public agencies;
- Workers whose firm produces component parts based on increased imports of finished products;
- Workers in firms that supply testing, packaging, maintenance and transportation services to companies with TAA-certified workers; and
- Workers whose firm is identified in an International Trade Commission "injury" determination listed in the Act.
Program Administration and Service Delivery:
- Provides workers with a new entitlement to employment and case management services, and designates funds for that purpose;
- Permits CSAs to waive requirements as necessary to ensure the eligibility for program benefits of returning service members in the same manner and to the same extent as if the service member had not served a period of duty;
- Provides protections for workers covered under certifications delayed by judicial and administrative appeals;
- Applies State UI "good cause" waiver provisions to all TAA time limitations; and
- Provides minimum requirements for CSA reviews of waivers of the training requirement.
- Raises the statutory cap on funds that may be allocated to the States for training from $220 million to $575 million per year, and amends how DOL apportions those funds;
- Allows TAA-funded training prior to separation from employment;
- Allows for part-time training, but without TRA; and
- Extends the deadline for enrolling in training in order to qualify for TRA to 26 weeks from the later of the worker's most recent total qualifying separation, or 26 weeks from the issuance of the certification. States may grant an extension of the training deadline for up to 45 days for extenuating circumstances. Workers may also receive a waiver of the training requirement within the same 26-week plus 45-day periods.
- Increases the maximum amount of additional TRA from 52 to 78 weeks for workers in long-term training;
- Permits the payment of 78 weeks of additional TRA over a period of 91 weeks, thereby allowing breaks in training and temporary periods of employment where additional TRA is not paid;
- Allows payment of up to 26 more consecutive weeks of additional TRA if the worker must undertake prerequisite education or remedial education in order to complete a program of TAA training;
- Allows trade-affected workers to elect to receive TRA instead of
Unemployment Insurance (UI) based upon a second UI benefit year resulting from part-time or short-term work with a lower weekly benefit amount (WBA);
- Creates a new standard for the waiver of recovery of TAA overpayments; and
- Eliminates the 210-day requirement for making an application for training as a condition for the receipt of additional TRA. Wage Supplement (RTAA)
- Eliminates the requirement for a group certification specifically for RTAA;
- Eliminates the requirement under ATAA that a worker must find reemployment within 26 weeks of layoff;
- Workers who choose and are eligible to receive RTAA may also receive regular TAA benefits and services: employment and case management services, training, TRA (with limitations), relocation, HCTC, and job search allowances;
- Increases the limit on wages in eligible reemployment to $55,000 a year;
- Increases the individual's benefit cap to $12,000; and
- Allows a worker to qualify for RTAA when working part-time. Health Coverage Tax Credit
- Expands the HCTC program, which is available to "eligible TAA recipients."
- Modifies the definition of an "eligible TAA recipient" to permit a worker to receive the HCTC even though s/he is in a break in training of a duration that renders the worker ineligible for TRA.
- Modifies the definition of an "eligible TAA recipient" to not apply the training enrollment requirements to an individual who is receiving unemployment insurance compensation.
- Increases the HCTC tax credit from 65 percent to 80 percent of the amount a worker paid for coverage under qualifying health insurance; and
- Provides for the continuation of HCTC eligibility for family members after receipt of Medicare, Death, or Divorce of the principle recipient. Job Search and Relocation
- Amends the percentage of job search expenses that may be paid on behalf of a qualified participant to 100 percent of the total expenses, capped at $1,500; and
- Amends the percentage of relocation expenses that may be paid on behalf of a qualified participant to 100 percent of the total expenses, plus a payment up to $1,500.