Unemployment Compensation (Updated 6/2017)

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 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 because of something that wasn't your fault or had your hours reduced, you can 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 clicking here.You can also call 1-888-313-7284 to file a new claim or reopen an old claim. After filing your initial application or reopening an old claim, you must file biweekly claims for each week in which you are totally or partially unemployed. Local Pennsylvania Teleclaims (PAT) numbers are no longer available; you can file biweekly UC claims, access specific benefit payment information, or learn more about Pennsylvania's unemployment compensation program by calling 1-888-255-4728.

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 ready to work full time at the time that you collect unemployment compensation. For instance, if you become ill and cannot work at any job at all, you are not eligible to collect unemployment compensation for the weeks you are ill. You will also have to actively seek work during each week that you claim benefits.

Your earnings:
After applying, you will be mailed a Notice of Financial Determination (Form UC-44F). This determination lists your employers and the amount of wages paid in each quarter of your base year. The Notice determines your "financial eligibility" for benefits based on your "base year" (the first four of the last five completed quarters). If financially eligible, the determination will establish your weekly benefit rate, partial benefit credit, maximum benefit entitlement, and allowance for dependents. If financially ineligible, the determination will state the reason for ineligibility.

The 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.
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
  • 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 TANF and SNAP (food stamps). Currently workers are eligible for 26 weeks of Unemployment Compensation plus additional weeks of Emergency Unemployment Compensation (currently available until December 2011).

What do I need to do to keep my Unemployment Compensation?

Once you have opened your claim, you must register with the Employment Office biweekly for each week you are claiming unemployment compensation. You must register each week through one of two acceptable methods to receive your Unemployment Compensation benefits. You can either file online from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, and 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, or call the Pennsylvania Teleclaims (PAT) number at 888-255-4728. For TTY services for the deaf and hard of hearing, call 888-411-4728. You can call from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, and 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Click here for to view a printable pdf factsheet of the Unemployment Compensation information.