What is the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program?
Did or will your employer:
- Move production outside of the United States,
- Outsource jobs outside of the United States,
- Compete with foreign companies,
- Import from foreign suppliers, or
- Supply customers impacted by foreign competition?
If the answer to any of the above questions is ‘yes’, you may be eligible for services and benefits provided under the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program.
The Trade Act of 1974 and all of its amendments were created to provide support to workers who have been found adversely impacted by increased imports, a shift of production, or a service that moved to another country.
It is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor and provides impacted workers with assistance to obtain the skills and resources needed to compete for good jobs in today's economy.
TAA constitutes one of the most complete packages of dislocated worker benefits and support available.
Benefits and Services
The goal of the TAA program is to help workers become reemployed in a suitable job as quickly as possible by providing benefits and services tailored to their needs, including:
- Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC)
- Income Support – Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA)
- Job Search Allowances
- Relocation Allowances
- Older Worker Wage Subsidy
Benefits vary slightly for petitions numbered 69,999 or less, between 70,000 and 79,999, and 80,000 and above due to Congressional changes in the law in 2002, 2009, and 2011.
A TAA petition can be filed with the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) by:
- three affected workers,
- a union or appropriate labor representative,
- the employer, or
- a local SC Works Center representative.
Please visit the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) website or review the SC TAA Decisions report to find out whether a petition was already filed on your behalf or if your company is already TAA-certified.
If no pending petition or active certification exists, a petition may be filed online or via fax through a downloadable form available on the USDOL website.
When a company becomes TAA certified, the certification applies only to the worker group of a company, not the individual workers. Workers must take additional steps to apply for eligibility and then enroll in the program.
Please contact us at TradeInfoSC@dew.sc.gov for assistance with petition filing or for further information.
You may also contact a local TAA Workforce Specialist directly for an individual eligibility determination and enrollment into the program.
** The TAA program is federally funded. There is no direct cost to the employer or employee. Information provided by the company to the USDOL during the examination (also called investigation) process remains confidential.
If you are approved for training, all reasonable and necessary costs will be covered, including but not limited to tuition, fees, books, and tools.
If your commute is greater than 3 miles one-way, you may be eligible for reimbursement of travel expenses. If your training requires occasional expenses such as an overnight stay, subsistence allowances may also be included.
Also, if you qualify for a Pell Grant, you will not have to apply it towards the cost of your training; instead, you may keep it to cover additional personal expenses.
Available training options are, for example,
- GED/HS Diploma,
- Remedial training for basic skills upgrade,
- English as a Second Language (ESL),
- Occupational/classroom training,
- Online training, and
- On-the-job training.
All training must be approved by a TAA Workforce Specialist in advance and prior to incurring any costs. Our specialists will help you make a decision regarding a training plan and career that is suitable for you. Assistance is available every step of the way to ensure your success!
Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC)
The Health Coverage Tax Credit or HCTC is a federal tax credit that covers 72.5% of your monthly premium for qualified health insurance, making it more affordable for you and your family. You may claim it as an end-of-the-year income tax credit or as a monthly advance payment.
The following types of health insurance plans qualify under HCTC:
- COBRA continuation coverage,
- Spousal coverage (if the spouse’s employer pays less than 50% of the premium, and is only payable as an end-of-tax year option),
- Individual, non-group coverage (must have begun at least 30 days prior to your separation from employment), and
- The South Carolina High Risk Pool.
To be eligible for HCTC, you must be enrolled in the TAA program and claiming Unemployment Insurance benefits, claiming Trade Readjustment Allowances, or accessing the older worker wage subsidy program.
South Carolina has partnered with the state of Maryland to help cover the period it takes for the IRS to process a worker’s enrollment in the federal HCTC program. It is important to note that this SCHCTC application does not replace the need to register for the federal HCTC program.
For more information, please visit the IRS HCTC and SCHCTC websites.
Income Support - Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA)
Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA) are weekly income support payments, usually equivalent to the amount received by Unemployment Insurance (UI), that may be available to TAA-eligible workers after all UI benefits are exhausted.
There are several TRA eligibility requirements, but most importantly you must be enrolled in approved training or have a waiver of training within a certain number of weeks from your company’s petition certification date or your layoff date (whichever is later).
The number of weeks for this deadline ranges from 8 to 26 weeks, depending on your petition number. You will be informed of your exact deadline date on the Benefit Rights and Obligations form (BRO) during your initial enrollment into the program.
If you are TAA eligible, it is imperative that you contact a local TAA Workforce Specialist as early as possible and stay in touch regularly to ensure all of your qualification requirements are met.
Job Search Allowances
If you are TAA-eligible and cannot find employment within your local commuting area and are pursuing job search activities further than 3 miles away from your residence, job search allowances may be available to you.
Job search allowances cover necessary and reasonable travel and subsistence expenses, varying between 90% and 100% of allowable costs, up to either $1,250 or $1,500, depending on your petition number.
Application deadlines are associated with this benefit and you must be approved prior to commencing the job search activity and before incurring any expenses.
If you are TAA-eligible and you are offered suitable employment in an area to which you wish to relocate (greater than 3 miles from your current residence), relocation allowances may be available to you.
This benefit covers between 90% and 100% of allowable relocation costs and provides a lump sum stipend equal to 3 times your average weekly dislocation wage, up to either $1,250 or $1,500, depending on your petition number.
As with job search allowances, relocation allowances are also associated with application deadlines and you must be approved prior to commencing your relocation and before incurring any expenses.
Older Worker Wage Subsidy
Alternative Trade Readjustment Assistance (ATAA)
Reemployment Trade Readjustment Assistance (RTAA)
For TAA-eligible workers, 50 years of age or older, ATAA and RTAA can subsidize 50% of the difference in wages earned at the time of separation from the TAA-certified firm and wages earned in re-employment. The maximum amount of benefits varies between $10,000 and $12,000 over a two year period, depending on your petition number.
ATAA and RTAA are virtually the same program but differ slightly based on the TAA laws that were enacted at the time of petitioning for benefits.
There are deadlines and individual eligibility requirements associated with this benefit, therefore, timely application and constant communication with your TAA Workforce Specialist is essential.
United States Department of Labor – Trade Adjustment Assistance
South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce
SC Works Online Services
America's Service Locator
Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC)
South Carolina HCTC
For more information on TAA services and benefits, contact us at TradeInfoSC@dew.sc.gov.