Trade Adjustment Assistance FAQs
Services for workers affected by foreign trade
For additional information about the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, you can view Employment Security's TAA Fact Sheet.
To review questions and answers about the program on this page, please jump to a topic area:
General questions | Petition process | TAA program assistance | Training assistance | Alternative or Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance (ATAA/RTAA) | Additional information
Q. What is Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA)?
A. Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and Alternative or Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance (ATAA/RTAA) programs assist workers who have become unemployed as a result of increased imports from, or shifts in production to, foreign countries. The goal of the Trade Act programs is to help trade-affected workers return to suitable employment as quickly as possible. TAA-certified workers may access services that include income support, relocation allowances and job-search allowances. TAA participants who require retraining in order to obtain suitable employment may receive occupational training if determined eligible. By requesting an amendment from the United States Department of Labor (DOL), TAA services may be expanded to secondary workers of businesses or suppliers to the primary company, firm or petitioning workers who filed the TAA petition.
In addition, the ATAA/RTAA programs for older workers provide an alternative to the benefits offered under the regular TAA program. Participation in ATAA/RTAA allows older workers, for whom retraining may not be suitable, to accept re-employment at a lower wage and receive a wage subsidy.
The Employment Security Department serves as agent to the DOL in administering the Trade Adjustment Assistance program for Washington.
Q. What exact services are available to me under my petition?
A. Changes to worker benefits and certification criteria may be different depending on which TAA regulation covers your petition number:
- Petitions numbered up to 49,999 are covered under the 1974 regulations;
- Petitions numbered 50,000 to 69,999 and 80,000 to 80,999 are covered under the 2002 regulations;
- Petitions numbered 70,000 to 79,999 are covered under the 2009 regulations; and
- Petitions numbered 81,000 and above are covered under the 2011 regulations.
The Trade Act counselor assigned to assist you will explain the benefits and services available under your petition number.
Q. How can I tell if I am covered under the 2002, 2009, 2002 Reversion or 2011 TAA program?
A. You can tell which program you are covered under by looking at the petition number, which is usually displayed in your paperwork as TA-W-##,###. See the above question and answer to determine which program your petition is certified under.
Q. What are the major changes in benefits between the 2002, 2009, 2002 Reversion and 2011 programs?
A. This chart contains a side-by-side comparison of benefits for each of the four program periods. For more information, please contact your local WorkSource Center to speak with a Trade Act counselor.
Q. Are workers in the manufacturing sector the only ones eligible for the TAA program?
A. It depends on which amendment the petition was certified under. For petitions numbered 60,000 to 69,999 or for some petitions numbered 80,000 to 80,999 (the 2002 and 2002 Reversion programs), only workers in the manufacturing sector are eligible. However, additional groups of workers that may have been certified under the 2009 or the 2011 programs include, but are not limited to:
- Workers in firms that supply services
- Workers whose firm has shifted production to any foreign country
- Workers in public agencies (not available for 2011)
- Workers whose firm produces component parts of a finished article produced by its customer(s)
- Workers in firms that supply testing, packaging, maintenance and transportation services to companies with TAA-certified workers
- Workers whose firm is identified in an International Trade Commission “injury” determination listed in the Act
Q. I am a worker who is already part of a certified worker group. Can I get the benefits as provided under the 2009 TAA program instead of the benefits provided in the 2002 or 2011 programs?
A. No. The law provides that workers covered by certification of petitions numbered 60,000 to 69,999 and most numbered 80,000 to 80,999 will receive the benefits and services under the 2002 law. Petitions numbered 70,000 to 79,999 will receive benefits and services under the 2009 law. Petitions numbered 81,000 and above will receive benefits and services under the 2011 law.
Q. Are there any Trade Act benefits available to assist employers?
A. Yes. The U.S. Department of Commerce enacted the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) program in 2009 to assist employers impacted by foreign competition. The Northwest Region's Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (NWTAAC) can assist you in determining whether you might be eligible.
Q. How do I apply for TAA benefits and services?
A. Obtaining TAA and ATAA/RTAA benefits is a two-step process:
Step 1 - Group Certification: A petition must first be filed on behalf of a group of workers with the U.S. Department of Labor requesting certification as workers adversely affected by foreign trade. A single petition form covers requests for both TAA and ATAA/RTAA certification. If the worker group meets the necessary group-eligibility criteria, a certification will be issued by the U.S. Department of Labor. A worker group must be certified for TAA in order to be certified for ATAA/RTAA. Download the required petition, complete and send it to the Washington State Trade Act Coordinator using one of the methods below:
By e-mail: Michelle Griffith
By fax: 360-902-9662 (please send it to the attention of the State TAA Coordinator)
By mail: TAA Petition
Employment Connections Division (EC)
Employment Security Department
PO Box 9046
Olympia, WA 98507-9046
You can find answers to frequently asked questions about TAA petitions on DOL's Web site.
Step 2 - Individual Eligibility: After a group certification is issued, each worker in the group may then apply for individual services and benefits. The Employment Security Department will obtain a list of the certified company's impacted workers and will mail letters of instruction to each of those workers. These letters will either inform workers of an upcoming TAA orientation or ask workers to schedule an appointment through the local WorkSource office. This appointment is needed to determine individual eligibility for services and benefits offered under the program.
Q. Who may file a Trade Adjustment Assistance petition for certification of eligibility?
A. Certification of eligibility may be filed by:
- A group of three or more petitioning workers,
- A union official/representative (the Washington State Labor Council can provide technical assistance upon request),
- A company official, such as the human-resource manager, or
- One-Stop operators or partners, including state workforce agencies, or the state dislocated-worker unit.
Q. How long does the Department of Labor take to make a decision on a certification?
A. Generally, 40 days after receiving a petition, the U.S. Department of Labor will make a final determination on whether or not the eligibility requirements have been met for TAA certification.
After receiving a TAA petition, Department of Labor investigators analyze facts contributing to the workers' layoffs or work reductions in order to determine if eligibility requirements are met.
Q. How does a petitioner appeal a negative determination of TAA eligibility?
A. Affected workers may request administrative reconsideration by the U.S. Department of Labor. Requests for reconsideration must:
- Be in writing
- Include the TAA investigation number
- Describe the job responsibilities affected for the group of workers included in the petition
- Cite reasons why the workers consider the denial erroneous according to the facts, the interpretation of the facts, or the law itself
Reconsideration requests must be mailed within 30 days of publication in the Federal Register to:
TAA Petition Appeal
Employment Connections Division (EC)
Employment Security Department
PO Box 9046
Olympia, WA 98507-9046
Q. How are workers notified when their company becomes Trade Act certified?
A. The U.S. Department of Labor will notify the petitioner, the company, and the state agency of its final decision regarding TAA certification.
Once a petition is certified, to begin the individual application process, workers identified by the employer will be notified by mail about a Trade Act orientation that will be scheduled locally. At this orientation, Employment Security Department Trade Act staff will provide a complete overview of the program, describe the services available, and answer any questions.
TAA program assistance
Q. Once certified and determined eligible, what re-employment services are available to workers?
A. Re-employment services that may be available include:
- Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA).
- Occupational skills training.
- Re-employment services.
- Job-search allowances.
- Relocation allowances.
- Alternative or Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance (ATAA/RTAA).
Q. What is job-search allowance and how do I qualify?
A. When it's determined that Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA)-eligible workers cannot secure suitable employment within a local commuting area, they may be eligible for a job-search allowance. This allowance covers most expenses incurred while seeking employment outside the normal commuting area. Job-search allowances reimburse a percentage of the total costs of allowable travel and subsistence, or a percentage of the federal per-diem rate for the area where you are job searching, whichever is less.
Important information and deadlines:
A job-search allowance application must be submitted before a job search begins. Applications may be submitted prior to certification, but will only be approved if the worker group is certified.
An application for a job-search allowance must be submitted either before the 365th day after the layoff or certification, or 182 days after the conclusion of training, whichever is later.
Q. What is a relocation allowance and how do I qualify?
A. If a TAA worker obtains suitable employment in another area, they may be eligible for financial assistance to relocate to the new area. Relocation allowances may include 90 to 100 percent (depending on petition number) of the reasonable and necessary expenses of moving the worker, their family, and their household goods to the new location. The amount may be reduced if the worker is entitled to reimbursement from other sources. A worker may be eligible for a lump-sum payment equal to three times the worker's average weekly wage, with a maximum of $1,250 or $1,500 (depending on petition number) to help them relocate.
Requests for relocation allowances must be submitted before the relocation begins. Applications may be submitted prior to certification, but will be approved only if the worker group is certified.
An application for a relocation allowance must be submitted before the 425th day after the layoff or certification, or 182 days after the conclusion of training, whichever is later.
Q. What kinds of TAA-approved training are available?
A. Allowable types of TAA training include classroom, on-the-job, customized and remedial and/or prerequisite (depending on the petition number).
Q. What are the conditions for the approval of Trade Adjustment Assistance training?
A. The six criteria that must be met are:
- There is no suitable employment for the worker;
- The worker would benefit from appropriate training;
- There is a reasonable expectation of employment following the training;
- The training must be reasonably available to the worker;
- The worker is qualified to obtain and complete the training, including having adequate financial resources available to complete the training when income support is exhausted; and
- The training is suitable and available at a reasonable cost.
Q. What costs may be included in training?
A. Training costs may include:
- Tuition, required books, tools and fees (computers, laptops, Internet services and most software are not included).
- Subsistence allowances (actual cost or 50 percent of the federal per diem, whichever is less).
- Transportation allowances (you may be eligible for this allowance if your commute from home to your training facility is greater than 25 miles).
Q. What is classroom training?
A. Classroom training is normally conducted in a classroom setting. Although the regulations do not give a specific definition of classroom setting, the usual meaning is that the training takes place in a school room where students can interact with an instructor. However, distance learning is also considered a form of classroom training.
Q. What is on-the-job training?
A. On-the-job training means training provided by an employer to an individual who is employed by the employer. The employer will receive a wage reimbursement of no greater than 50 percent for a set period of time. The period of time is determined by the petition number and the extent of training required.
Q. What is customized training?
A. Customized training means the training is designed to meet the specialized requirements of an employer or group of employers. The training is conducted with a commitment by the employer or group of employers to employ the individual upon successful completion of the training. The employer pays at least 50 percent of the cost of training.
Q. What is remedial training?
A. Remedial education provides training in the elementary skills every worker must have in order to achieve basic employability. Remedial education training should be considered pre-vocational; that is, it leads to occupational, on-the-job, or customized training that will equip the participant with specific job skills. Wherever practical, remedial education training should be conducted concurrently with the early parts of occupational training. Examples of remedial education are basic writing and mathematical skills training, English as a Second Language (ESL), English for Speakers of other Languages (ESoL), and courses leading to a General Education Diploma (GED). Weekly support (TRA) for remedial education may be approved for additional weeks of income support depending on your petition number.
Q. What is prerequisite training?
A. Prerequisite classes are required as a prior condition for acceptance into a specific training program. Weekly support (TRA) for prerequisite education may be approved for additional weeks of income support depending on your petition number.
Q. What are Trade Readjustment Allowances?
A. Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA) is income support and is defined in two categories: Basic TRA and Additional TRA. Each category has its own set of eligibility requirements:
- Basic TRA may be payable if the worker is enrolled or participating in TAA training, has completed such training or has obtained a waiver of such training requirement.
- Additional TRA may be payable only if the worker is participating in TAA-approved training.
In general, certified workers may be eligible for 104, 117, 130 or 156 weeks of income support (depending on petition number), usually allotted as follows:
- 26 weeks of state unemployment-insurance (UI) compensation
- An additional 26 weeks of basic TRA
- Up to an additional 52, 78 or 104 weeks of TRA (depending on petition number) to assist the worker in completing a TAA training program
- Up to an additional 26 weeks of TRA (depending on petition number) if prerequisite and/or remedial classes are taken
Important TRA deadlines:
Receiving TRA: For petitions numbered 69,999 and below or 80,000 to 80,999 - Eligible workers must be enrolled in approved training or have a waiver of training within 8 weeks of the petition certification date or 16 weeks from the most recent qualifying separation, whichever is later.
Receiving TRA: For petitions numbered 70,000-79,999 and 81,000 and above - Eligible workers must be enrolled in approved training or have a waiver of training within 26 weeks of the petition certification date or 26 weeks from the most recent qualifying separation, whichever is later.
To receive a waiver, specific criteria must be met.
Receiving additional TRA: Within 210 days of their layoff or from the date of certification, eligible individuals covered by petitions numbered 69,999 and below or 80,000 to 80,999 must have submitted a bona fide application for training. Petitions numbered 70,000-79,999 and 81,000 and above must be waivered within 26 weeks of certification or last date of employment, whichever date is later.
Certifications numbered before 80,999 and below have six criteria used in determining that training is not feasible or appropriate for the worker at that time. Certifications numbered 81,000 and above only have three criteria used in determining that training is not feasible or appropriate for the worker at that time. Please contact a TAA counselor as soon as possible to review which set of criteria applies to your petition number. (To schedule an appointment with a TAA counselor, contact your local WorkSource office.
Q. How do I qualify for Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA)?
A. To qualify for TRA you must:
- Be covered by an approved TAA certification
- Be a worker laid off due to lack of work from a U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) certified employer on or after the impact date identified by USDOL, and prior to the expiration date of the certification
- Have worked at least 26 weeks with wages of $30 or more with the certified firm or subdivision in the previous 52-week period, including the week of separation
- Be entitled to and have exhausted all rights to state or any other federal unemployment compensation benefits
- Be enrolled in or have completed a TAA approved training program or have a written waiver issued.
Q. Can approved training be waived for Basic TRA?
A. Under certain circumstances, eligible workers may be waived from participating in training and still receive Basic TRA. One of the following conditions must exist for training to be determined not feasible or appropriate, and thus, potentially waived:
- The worker will be recalled reasonably soon (available for petitions numbered 80,999 and below only).
- The worker has marketable skills for suitable employment and a reasonable expectation of employment in the foreseeable future, (available for petitions numbered 80,999 and below only).
- The worker is within two years of eligibility for a pension or Social Security (available for petitions numbered 80,999 and below only).
- The worker is unable to participate in or complete training due to her or his health (available for all certified TAA petitions, regardless of petition number).
- The immediate enrollment is not available, (available for all certified TAA petitions, regardless of petition number).
- No training program is available (available for all certified TAA petitions, regardless of petition number).
Note: Waivers must be reviewed every 30 days for petitions numbered up to 69,000 and between 80,000 to 80,999. Waivers issued for petitions numbered 70,000 to 79,999 and 81,000 and above do not need to be reviewed until 90 days after the original issuing date and every 30 days thereafter. It is the responsibility of the affected worker and One-Stop staff to ensure the worker meets with a One-Stop representative within the waiver’s 30-day timeframe. Additional TRA is not payable during a waiver period; the worker must be in training.
Alternative and reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance
Q. What is Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance (ATAA) and how do I apply?
A. ATAA provides an alternative assistance program for older workers certified eligible to apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance. The assistance is in the form of a wage subsidy for those re-employed before the last day of the 26th week to bridge a gap between their wage at separation and their new wage. ATAA is effective for petitions numbered 69,999 and below or 80,000 to 80,999. The request must be made at the time the petition is filed. Not all petitions will be eligible.
Q. What is the application process for Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance (ATAA)?
A. To apply:
- An ATAA application must be filed within two years of the first day of qualifying re-employment.
- The worker must indicate that a choice has been made between Trade Adjustment Assistance and Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance (ATAA).
- Workers cannot switch to the TAA program once they begin receiving the ATAA supplement.
- The receipt of the initial ATAA payment represents the individual's decision and voids their rights to retraining, allowances, and Trade Readjustment Assistance.
Q. What are the ATAA eligibility requirements?
A. To be eligible for ATAA, an individual must:
- Be determined eligible for TAA and be receiving TAA case management services
- Be at least age 50 at or during the time of re-employment
- Obtain re-employment by the last day of the 26th week after the worker's qualifying separation from the TAA/ATAA-certified employment
- Not be expected to earn more than $50,000 annually in gross wages (excluding overtime pay) from the re-employment
- Be re-employed full time, as defined by law in the state where the worker is employed
- Not return to work for the employment from which the worker was separated
Q. What is Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance (RTAA) and how do I apply?
A. RTAA is an employment program for older workers certified eligible to apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance under the 2009 and later TAA programs. The assistance is in the form of a wage subsidy for those re-employed to bridge a gap between their wage at separation and their new wage. RTAA is effective for all petitions numbered 70,000-79,999 and 81,000 and above.
Q. What is the application process for Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance (RTAA)?
A. To apply, an RTAA application must be filed within two years of the earlier of the first day of qualifying re-employment or the exhaustion of unemployment insurance eligibility based on Trade-affected employment.
Q. What are the RTAA eligibility requirements?
A. To be eligible for RTAA, an individual must:
- Be determined eligible for TAA and be receiving TAA case management services.
- Be at least age 50 at or during the time of re-employment.
- Not be expected to earn more than $55,000 annually in gross wages (excluding overtime pay) from the re-employment for petitions numbered 70,000 to 79,999 or $50,000 annually in gross wages for petitions numbered 81,000 and above.
- Be re-employed full-time, as defined by law in the state where the worker is employed, or be employed part-time (at least 20 hours per week) and attending TAA-approved training full or part-time for petitions numbered 70,000 to 79,999 and 81,000 and above.
- Not return to work for the firm or appropriate subdivision of the Trade-affected employer from which the worker was separated.
Q. Where can I find Trade Adjustment Assistance statutes and regulations?
A. Statutes: Trade Adjustment Assistance Reform Act of 2002, Public Law 107-210 (format: PDF) Trade Act of 1974 (as amended), United States Code, Title 19, Sections 2271-2331 (PDF), Congressional Statement of Purpose, "The purposes of this chapter are to provide adequate procedures to safeguard American industry and labor against unfair or injurious import competition, and to assist industries, firms, workers, and communities to adjust to changes in international trade flows." 19 U.S.C. 2102
Regulations: Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers Under the Trade Act of 1974 Code of Federal Regulations, Title 20, Chapter 5, Part 617 (format: PDF), Purpose, "The [Trade Act of 1974] created a program to assist individuals, who became unemployed as a result of increased imports, to return to suitable employment. The [Trade Adjustment Assistance] program provides for re-employment services and allowances for eligible individuals. The regulations in the part 617 are issued to implement the Act." 20 CFR 617.2. Also, TEGL 11-02 is the operating instructions for implementing the amendments to the 1974 TAA program enacted as the Trade Adjustment Assistance of 2002; TEGL 22-08 (PDF) and TEGL 22-08 Change 1 (PDF) are the operating instructions for implementing the amendments to the Trade Act of 1974 enacted by the Trade and Globalization Adjustment Assistance Act of 2009; TEGL 10-11 is the operating instructions for implementing the amendments to the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act Extension of 2011.
Q. Is there a U.S. Department of Labor Web site with additional information?
A. Workers who do not qualify for Trade Adjustment Assistance re-employment services and benefits may be eligible for services under the Workforce Investment Act Dislocated Worker Program, or other programs which may be accessible through a local One-Stop Career Center. Workers can find the One-Stop Career Center closest to them by calling (toll-free) 877-US2-JOBS (877-872-5627), (persons with hearing or speaking impairments can call Washington Relay Service 711) or by using America's Service Locator.