Apply as soon as your hours are reduced or you stop work completely. The earlier you apply, the earlier you can get benefits.
Even if you are unsure, go ahead and apply. You need to meet these three requirements to be approved for unemployment compensation:
- You need to be financially eligible. You must have enough work history over the last 15 months to qualify for unemployment. If you aren’t sure, still apply.
- You have to be unemployed “through no fault of your own.” If you were laid off or your hours were reduced, you should be separation eligible. If you voluntarily quit you will need to prove to unemployment that you tried to keep your job before quitting. If you were fired, you will need to prove that you did nothing wrong and that your employer fired you without good reason.
- You must be able and available for some kind of work.
- Check your portal regularly for notices and updates about your claim
- Make sure you begin filing weekly certifications
- Respond to any requests for information or fact-finding forms
If you did not set up an online portal, fact finding forms and notices will continue to be mailed to you.
To be eligible for unemployment, you need to have earned enough wages as an employee during your base year. The government divides up the calendar into 4 quarters. Your base year is determined by which quarter you apply for unemployment benefits in.
Check out the flowchart in the flyer below to figure out what base year wages will be used to calculate your financial eligibility.
You can also look a the Department of Labor and Industry’s description of financial eligibility to learn more about what financial eligibility means.
Submit an appeal online in the portal or email [email protected] and include the following information:
- Full name and mailing address
- The last four digits of your social security number (xxx-xx-1234)
- A brief paragraph about why you think the government got it wrong, and why you think you should be approved for benefits
- Attach any paystubs or other evidence of missing wages to the email
This is sometimes called a “wage investigation” or “wage contest” because you are asking the Department to investigate wages you believe are missing from your determination.
You are able and available to work if you are mentally and physically capable of working. As long as you would be able to perform some sort of work in your home, if such work was offered to you, you should be able and available.
You do not need to be able to do your previous job or any particular type of work. The question is really whether you would be ready, willing and able to work, if work was made available to you.
If you could name a job you could do (answering phones, for example), you are able and available.
Once you set up an online account in the new UC system, you will have access to “Claim Summary” page. You will be able to find and review your payment history on that page.
If you disagree with the decision, you must appeal within 21 days of the determination date on the notice. You can appeal online in the portal, or by email, mail, or fax. Our page about appealing provides more information about how to appeal.
If you missed the deadline, you can still appeal. You will be asked at a UC Referee hearing to explain why you had good cause to miss the appeal deadline.
You will be scheduled for an in-person UC Referee hearing. If you have an online account, you will receive notice of the hearing in your message center. The notice will include all of the documents related to your claim. The hearing is very important – this is your only time to offer testimony or documents.
If you lose the Referee hearing, you can appeal again to the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review. There will generally not be a second hearing. The Board will review the documents and transcript from the hearing. You should include in your appeal the reasons you disagree with the Referee’s decision.
Overpayments affect your current claim for UC benefits in a few ways. If you have a non-fault or a non-fraud overpayment, the government will offset 1/3 of your benefits each week. If you have a fault or fraud overpayment, the government will offset all of your benefits until you have repaid the overpayment.
Even if your benefits are being offset, you should still continue filing because it is important to pay down the overpayment.
Workers who are legally authorized to work in the United States can qualify for Pennsylvania unemployment compensation. Submit copies/photos of your work authorization to get benefits.
Unemployment benefits are not considered in the public charge analysis, they are not a form of cash assistance and will not affect your immigration status.
If you are not a US citizen, and have more questions about how to get unemployment compensation benefits, check out our FAQ section for non-citizens.
If you work for an app-based driving company (Uber, Lyft, Instacart, etc), apply for regular unemployment compensation. The law recently changed and if you provide proof of your earnings, you should qualify.
If you were correctly classified as an independent contractor, unfortunately, you are not be eligible for unemployment compensation.
If you believe you were misclassified, meaning you believe you should have been considered an employee, you should apply for UC. You will need to provide information about your earnings and why you believe you were an employee.
Filing Weekly Claims
Yes, the new UC system allows weekly filing. You can also continue to file biweekly if you prefer.
However, if you miss two weeks your claim will go inactive and you will need to reopen it before you are able to file a weekly claim.
When you file your weekly claim, you will be asked if you worked and whether you had earnings. If you worked, report your gross earnings (pre-tax) for work performed each week. You must report wages when they are earned. It doesn’t matter when you are actually paid the money.
- Report all earnings, from any employer, including out of state work.
- Report any vacation pay or other paid time off (PTO) that you get (unless the pay was loaned by the employer and the pay will need to be earned later/paid back).
The Department of Labor and Industry does not get a weekly report of the wages you earned from your employer. BUT, they do get a quarterly report of the wages you earned from your employer. If the wages you report do not match up with the wages the Department of Labor and Industry gets from your employer, an investigation into your UC claim will be opened. This could result in a disqualifying determination and an overpayment.
Make sure you always report your wages.
Your claim will go inactive if you miss two weeks of filing. You simply need to follow the instructions and link to “reopen” or “reactivate” your claim.
This involves answering a lot of the same questions as you did on the initial application.
The system will also ask if you require “backdating” – meaning, do you need access to previous weeks you never filed for. You should request whatever weeks you need access to and provide an explanation of your good cause for not timely filing those weeks.
Multiply the number of hours you worked during the week by your hourly wage.
No, you do not need to report SSDI or SSI income to unemployment. However, you do need to report your unemployment benefits to the SSA.
You can still be eligible for unemployment even while on SSI/SSDI. As long as you are able and available for some type of work, even part-time work, you may qualify for UC.
Work Search Requirements
Yes, UC claimants must complete work search requirements while filing for benefits.
UC claimants must complete weekly work search activities. Pennsylvania requires workers to apply for 2 jobs every week and complete an additional work search activity. If you apply for 3 jobs, then you do not need to complete a work search activity.
Interviews and other job application follow up also count as a “job application.”
According to the Department of Labor and Industry, work search activities include when you:
- Attend a job fair
- Search positions posted on the PA CareerLink® system or Internet job banks
- Create or post a résumé in the PA CareerLink® system or post a résumé in other résumé-posting services
- Contact colleagues, former co-workers or other individuals in similar professions or occupations to make known your availability for employment or obtain information about available positions, prospective employers or other employment opportunities
- Utilize an employment agency, employment registry or school placement service
- Take a civil service test or other pre-employment test
- Participate in a program or activity offered through the Pennsylvania CareerLink® system. If you live outside of Pennsylvania, you may participate in these types of activities offered by your state employment service.
No. Pennsylvania law only requires that you certify on your weekly claim that you have engaged in work search.
However, you must keep records of your job searches and applications, as the Department can audit claimants at any time to ensure they have completed their required work search.
Yes. When you apply for benefits you will have 30 days to register with CareerLink.
If you do not register within 30 days of filing for benefits, you will be disqualified from UC benefits.
Yes, if you received a notice informing you that you have been scheduled for a RESEA workshop or session, you must attend or reschedule.
If you do not attend the session you will be disqualified for benefits for the week of the session. You can appeal that disqualification if you believe you have good cause to not attend the session.
What to Do When Your Employer Appeals Your Unemployment Compensation Claim
After you apply for unemployment compensation, it is important you check your mail regularly for letters from the government. If your employer is appealing your claim, you should receive a letter in the mail that says your employer has filed a petition for appeal.
At some point after you get the letter that says your employer has appealed your claim, you will receive a Notice of Hearing in the mail. The Notice of Hearing contains the date, time, and location of the hearing and the name of the referee. It will also contain some rules and info about hearings.