Petition Filing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
This FAQ section contains answers to general questions about the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, including eligibility, benefits and petitions. Specific questions on completing each section of the petition form follow in separate, corresponding FAQ sections.
Q: What is Trade Adjustment Assistance?
The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program provides benefits and support to workers who become unemployed or are threatened with job loss due to the impact of international trade. The Trade Act of 1974, as amended (Trade Act), established the TAA program.
Q: What are some of the benefits available to those who qualify to apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance?
TAA offers a variety of benefits and services to eligible workers including job training, income support, job search and relocation allowances, and a wage supplement to certain reemployed trade-affected workers 50 years of age and older. Detailed information is available at the TAA Benefits webpage.
Q: How do I file a complete petition?
A petition may be completed online, printed in English or Spanish from the website or obtained at your local American Job Center. To find the American Job Center nearest you, visit: http://www.servicelocator.org.
For a petition to be complete, it must contain the following information:
(1) Name, title, and contact information for each petitioner
(2) Name and address of the worker’s firm
(3) Name, title, and contact information of an official or authorized representative of the workers’ firm
(4) Petitioner signature and date of signature
(5) Date of worker separations
A complete petition will enable OTAA to begin the investigation without additional delay. Please be sure that the information provided on the petition is printed clearly and is easy to read.
Q: When should a petition be filed?
Petitions for Trade Adjustment Assistance should be filed at any time after worker separations or a threat of separations begins, but not later than one year after the earliest date on which workers lost their jobs with the employer.
Q: Why must the petition be filed within one year of worker separations?
The Trade Act provides that a certification for TAA does not apply to any worker who was separated from the firm more than one year before the date the petition was filed. This means that workers laid off more than one year before the petition is filed cannot be eligible for benefits.
Q: How will I know that the Department of Labor received my petition?
After receiving a complete petition, the Office of Trade Adjustment Assistance (OTAA) assigns the petition a five digit case number, “TA-W-XX,XXX”. A notice of receipt of the petition will be published in the Federal Register. The status of the petition is available on the TAA website.
Q: What happens after I file my TAA petition?
After receiving a valid petition, OTAA will initiate an investigation to determine whether the group of workers covered by the petition meets the group eligibility requirements of the Trade Act. This investigation may include contacting the workers’ firm to collect data, contacting customers of the workers’ firm, the petitioners, unions, Cooperating State Agencies, or other sources of relevant information as needed. The steps required to complete an investigation vary according to the circumstances specific to the worker’s firm.
If the workers are found to meet the group eligibility criteria set by the Trade Act, OTAA will issue a certification of group eligibility. OTAA will then notify the petitioners, the workers’ firm, and the Cooperating State Agency of the determination in writing. The determination will also be posted on the TAA website and published in the Federal Register.
Q: How will I know whether my petition is certified?
After making a determination on group eligibility, OTAA will notify the petitioners, the workers' firm, and Cooperating State Agency of the determination. In addition, the determination will be posted on the TAA website and published in the Federal Register. If a group of workers is certified eligible to apply for TAA, the Cooperating State Agency will then notify individual workers of the certification and provide information about benefits.
Q: What is the process to determine group and individual eligibility?
Petitions for Trade Act benefits have two distinct phases:
1. Once a complete petition is filed, the Office of Trade Adjustment Assistance initiates an investigation to determine whether a group of workers meet the eligibility requirements. If the worker group meets the necessary eligibility criteria, a group eligibility certification will be issued. This certifies that the workers of the group are eligible to apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits. More information about the group eligibility requirements may be found on the TAA website at https://www.doleta.gov/tradeact/petitioners/petitionprocess.cfm.
2. After this group eligibility certification is issued, each worker in the group must apply individually for services and benefits through their local American Job Center. TAA case managers at the local American Job Center will issue a determination of the workers’ individual eligibility for TAA benefits. Information on individual services and benefits is available on the TAA website at http://www.doleta.gov/tradeact/benefits/. TAA participants may also contact their closest American Job Center for more information and assistance from a TAA case manager.
To locate a American Job Center, please visit http://www.servicelocator.org
Q: Is there anything I can do to get a faster response from Department of Labor?
The Office of Trade Adjustment Assistance is committed to ensuring that benefits are provided to all eligible workers in a timely manner. The petitions are investigated as quickly as possible, in the order in which they were received.
A complete petition will enable OTAA to begin the investigation without additional delay. Please be sure that the information provided on the petition form is printed clearly. Petitioners and all interested parties are encouraged to provide all additional information they have describing the worker group, circumstances surrounding separations, and trade effect which led to separations or threatens to lead to separations.
Q: What do I do if my company is closed?
You may file a petition following the closure of your company. However, please be aware that the difficulty encountered by the Office of Trade Adjustment Assistance in obtaining data on company sales, production, and trade effect may delay the issuance of a determination. In all instances, but especially when filing after the closure of a company, petitioners should include complete information about company contacts.
Q: I am an employer filing a petition on behalf of my employees. Other than the petition, what additional information will I be required to provide?
As with all other petitioners, employers must submit a complete petition form. As with any petitioner, the more information that is included in the petition form, the easier it will make OTAA’s investigation. After a petition is filed, OTAA will request from the firm information relevant to making a determination of group eligibility. This can include data on employment, production, sales, and customers. The information request is made using one or more investigative forms. The forms can be viewed on the OTAA website.
Following certification, company officials will also be requested to provide the State agency with information needed to determine individual eligibility, including individual workers’ names and contact information.
Q: What information should a State Workforce Official or American Job Center Operator/Partner include in a petition?
As with all other petitioners, State Workforce Officials or American Job Center Operator/Partners must submit a complete petition form with all of the available information regarding the worker group and their separations. Since it is often necessary to obtain additional information from former workers during an investigation (as well as from the employer), it is helpful for the State or American Job Center official to provide contact information for the worker(s) on whose behalf the petition is being filed as well as for the employer.
Questions about Section 1 of the Petition Form
Q: Who may file a petition?
A petition may be filed by any of the following: a group of three of more workers, an employer of a group of workers, a Union, a State Workforce Official, a American Job Center Operator/Partner, or another Duly Authorized Representative. OTAA will initiate an investigation when a complete petition is filed by any of these parties.
Q: What if there are more than three workers in my group?
For petition filing purposes, a minimum of three workers are needed to constitute a group but a group may include any larger number of workers. If more than one petition is filed on behalf of workers of the same group (e.g., Accounting Department workers), OTAA will incorporate all allegations into a single investigation. All workers covered by an active investigation are encouraged to submit evidence during the investigation.
Q: What do I do if I want to file a petition, but I am a worker and cannot find two other workers to file with me as a worker group?
You may seek out a representative of the State Workforce Office or a American Job Center Operator/Partner to file a petition on your behalf. More information on how to contact the nearest workforce office can be found here - http://www.servicelocator.org
Q: What if I don’t know the exact date of separation as requested by Section 1, Item (g)?
If you are filing as a group of workers, please provide your actual date of separation or the date on which your separation is threatened to occur. For other petitioner types, please provide the most recent date on which separation occurred or is threatened to occur. If you do not know the exact date, an estimate of the month and year is sufficient.
Q: How do I describe a worker group as requested by Section 1, Item (i)?
A group of workers may work for a specific department or subdivision within the company or may perform a common job function, such as produce or support the production of a specific article or supply specific services in support of the article produced.
Questions about Section 2 of the Petition Form
Q: What is the difference between the information requested in Items (a) through (h) and Items (i) through (m)?
Items (a) through (h) refer to the main location of your company. If you did not work at that main location, please provide the address using Items (i) through (m).
Q: What if the headquarters (or main administrative offices) of my company are located in one city, but I work at another location?
On the petition, complete items (a) through (h) for the location of the company headquarters. Please complete items (i) through (m) regarding the location where you performed your job.
If you work for a leasing or contracting company and your employer placed you in a position to work with its customer, complete items (a) through (h) regarding your employer and complete items (i) through (m) regarding the customer’s location where you performed your job.
Q: What if I do not know all the articles produced or services supplied by my company?
Please provide the information for the articles produced or services supplied by your worker group that you think is important to the trade effect you identify in section 3; that is, please provide a description of the work that you performed.
Q: What if I do not know the exact number of workers that were laid off?
The exact number is not necessary for a complete petition. Please provide an estimate of that number, and indicate that the number is an estimate. Additional information on worker separations at the firm is collected by OTAA as part of its investigation.
Questions about Section 3 of the Petition Form
Q: What is a trade effect? What are some examples of reasons why a petitioner may believe that separations are due to foreign trade? How much detail do I need to provide?
Please provide as much information as possible. Any information you provide in this section will help OTAA to conduct its investigation.
Example 1: “The Accounting Department work that I formerly performed in support of car manufacturing is no longer needed as the plant is closing and production is being moved overseas.”
Example 2: “The customers of my company are now purchasing the widgets we produce from a company located in China. As a result, the company has lost business and laid us off.”
Example 3: “Our company produces automobile parts for one assembly plant. That plant was recently closed and certified eligible to apply for TAA.”
Q: I do not have access to documents that can prove a trade effect has occurred. Can I still file a petition?
Yes. Once a petition is filed, the Office of Trade Adjustment Assistance will conduct an investigation to determine whether foreign trade has contributed importantly to worker separations. This investigation may include collection of information from the company, customers of the company, and aggregate trade data as needed. Petitioners should still be as specific as possible about their reasons for believing layoffs are related to foreign trade.
Q: Do I have to submit supplemental information?
No. You are not required to submit supplemental information. However, we encourage you to submit any additional information you have about separations, production and sales, plant closings, customers and shift of productions that may assist OTAA in conducting an investigation.
Q: Who is a Company Official?
A company official is an authorized representative of the company who can provide information on the actual or threatened worker separations. In addition, this official must have knowledge or access to company information regarding sales, production, customers, and trade impacts. Company officials can be supervisors, managers, and human resources specialists. If the company is closed, company officials can be former company officials, former owners, bankruptcy trustees, or attorneys representing the company.
Q: Why do I have to provide information for two current company officials?
The information about current company officials enables OTAA to immediately begin to collect the information necessary to conduct the investigation. Omitting company official information may increase the time necessary to issue a determination.
Q: What if I do not have the contact information for two current company officials?
Please provide as much information as you have available to you, including phone and fax numbers and an email address. If the company is closed, company officials can be former company officials, former owners, bankruptcy trustees or attorneys representing the company.
Questions about Section 4 of the Petition Form
Q: What is the date of petition?
The date of petition is the date on the petition form next to the signature(s) of the petitioner(s). The petition must be received by OTAA no later than 30 calendar days from this date.
Q: Whose signature belongs here?
The petition form should be signed by the three workers in the worker group, employers, Union Official, State Workforce Official, American Job Center Operator/Partner or Duly Authorized Representative who are filing the petition. When a group of three workers is filing the petition, all three workers must sign the petition.
Q: What happens if I have forgotten to sign the petition?
The signature is an attestation by the petitioner(s) that, to the best of their knowledge and belief, the information provided in the petition is true, correct, and complete. Every petition filed with the Department of Labor must be signed. If signatures are missing from the petition form, the petition will be returned as incomplete with an explanation. You may resubmit the petition, with the requisite signature(s), at any time.
Q: If we are filing as a group of three workers, do all three of us need to sign?
Yes. If you are filing the petition as a group of three workers, all three workers named in Section 1 of the petition form must sign the petition form. If only one or two of the petitioning workers sign the petition, the petition will be returned as incomplete. You may resubmit a new petition, with all signatures, at any time.