Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation

In Pennsylvania, Unemployment Compensation is administered through the Department of Labor and Industry. The purpose of the unemployment compensation system is to ease the transition period from one job to another when a workers lose jobs through "no fault of their own."

When do I apply for Unemployment Compensation?
If you have worked during the past 18 months and you are unemployed or had your hours reduced, you need to call the Unemployment Compensation Service Center to file or reopen a claim.

How do I apply for Unemployment Compensation?
You can apply for benefits online in either English or Spanish by visiting You can also call 215-856-6990 or 1-888-313-7284 (Monday-Friday) to file a new claim or reopen an old claim. The TTY access number for the deaf and hard of hearing is 1-888-334-4046. Spanish speaking claimants should call 1-877-888-8104.
Special Note: The Service Center receives the most calls on Mondays, so you might get faster service if you call Tuesday through Friday, especially in the early mornings and late afternoons.

Am I eligible for Unemployment Compensation?
Your eligibility depends on:

Your reason for job separation: You will be eligible if you worked a sufficient number of weeks and were not terminated for “willful misconduct” or did not quit without good cause.

Your ability to work: You must be able and available for work full time at the time that you collect UC. For instance, if you become ill and cannot work at any job at all, you are not eligible to collect UC for the weeks you are ill.

Your earnings: Your eligibility depends on your earnings during the first four of the last five completed quarters, or your base year (see chart). This base year system does not count your most recent earnings, so if you are found financially ineligible you should re-apply in the next quarter, when additional earnings would be counted. The minimum earnings requirements are:
  • at least $800 in the highest quarter of your base year
  • at least $1320 in total wages for your base year
  • a minimum of 16 weeks of earnings over $50 in your base year (this doesn't include the current or previous quarter) 
  • sufficient wages in your total year relative to your wages in your highest quarter, know as qualifying wages.

What do I need to apply for Unemployment Compensation?
  • Social Security Number
  • Name and address of last employer
  • Your most recent pay stub
  • Date of last day of work
  • Alien Registration number if you are not a U.S. citizen
  • Valid driver's license number if you have one

What do I need to do after I apply?
After you finish the call, you will be sent paperwork that you must complete and return to the Service Center. After they have received your information, you will receive three separate mailings:
  • Notice of Financial Determination,
  • Claim Confirmation Letter, and
  • Unemployment Compensation Handbook.

You should receive this information within ten working days of filing your claim. The Notice of Financial Determination will list your wages earned over a certain time period, will tell you if you are financially eligible based on these wages, and will tell you how much money you will get each week. If you want to appeal the information listed, you will have fifteen days from the date of the Notice to appeal.

When will I receive benefits and for how long?
Your first week is known as a “waiting week” and you will not receive benefits for that week. It can take up to 4 or more weeks before you receive your first benefits check. Once you start receiving checks, you will receive one every two weeks. While you wait for your first check you are eligible for other benefits including welfare and SNAP (or food stamps). Currently workers are eligible for 59 weeks of UC due to the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program.

What do I need to do to keep my Unemployment Compensation?
Once you have opened your claim, you must register with the Employment Office each week you are claiming for UC. You must register each week through one of two acceptable methods to receive your UC benefits:
Send in a mail claim (if you are eligible) or, Call the Pennsylvania Teleclaims (PAT) number. Below is a list of PAT numbers:

Toll Free   1-888-255-4728
Philadelphia   215-560-1978 
EspaƱol   1-877-888-8104
TTY   1-888-411-4728

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