We exploit an unanticipated labor market reform to estimate the effects of pro-cyclical changes in long-term unemployment assistance (UA). In July 2012, Spain raised the minimum age to receive unlimited-duration UA from 52 to 55. Using a difference-in-differences design, we document that shorter benefits caused (i) shorter non-employment duration, especially among younger workers; (ii) higher labor force exit and other programs' take-up, especially among older workers; (iii) lower wages upon re-employment. The reform induced moderate government savings. Our results highlight the importance of considering the interplay with labor market conditions when designing long-term benefit schedules that affect workers close to retirement.