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Pennsylvania – All You Need To Know When You’re Unemployed

Updated : September 23rd, 2020

Pennsylvania UC (Unemployment Compensation) program is handled by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, which aims to provide a cushion, only if you qualify for the unemployment benefits. This enables a sense of relief to all of you who were at a constant risk of being completely stalled in your day-to-day activities because of unemployment and unpaid bills.

Therefore, filing for UI claims gives a fighting chance of being employed elsewhere without losing out much in life, and within the given time frame. So pull up your socks and do the needful!

Unemployment Insurance In PA
How to get unemployment compensation in PA?

How To File An Initial Claim In PA?

Keep the following information ready before filing an initial claim:

  • The Social Security number and your PIN (received in the mail)
  • The PA Driver’s license number, if you have one
  • The Employer Information Form, if you have one. Or else, just the name and address of your employer(s)
  • The most recent pay stub which helps in determining your benefits
  • The gross amount earned for the work performed during a week. Also, if you were absent from work for a week, then the gross amount you would have earned for the week
  • The gross amount of vacation pay, if any, for the away week

You can file your applications or reopen your existing UI claim for UC benefits by the following methods:

  • Online: You can fill an online application, which is accessible 24X7
  • Telephone: You can call the statewide unemployment compensation toll-free number at 1-888-313-7284 (TTY services for the deaf and hard of hearing at 1-888-334-4046).
  • Paper Form: You can file a paper application which is to be downloaded and mailed or faxed to a UC service center receiving applications from your County
  • Videophone service: Videophone service is available every Wednesday from noon to 4 p.m. at 717-704-8474. (*Sign language is the ONLY means of communication provided in this service)

Here’s a list from where you can apply for UI Benefits to the corresponding offices:
Based on the County in which you live, you can send your application to the following office addresses-

If you reside in these Counties: Then Application should be mailed to:
Berks, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton Allentown UC Service Center 160 W. Hamilton St., Ste 500 Allentown, PA 18101-1994
Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon Lancaster UC Service Center 36 East Grant Ave. Lancaster, PA 17602
Bucks, Crawford, Erie, Forest, McKean, Philadelphia, Venango, Warren Erie UC Service Center 1316 State St. Erie, PA 16501-1978
Adams, Blair, Cambria, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Cumberland, Dauphin, Elk, Huntingdon, Jefferson, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry, Potter, York Altoona UC Service Center 1101 Green Ave. Altoona, PA 16601-3483
Bradford, Carbon, Clinton, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, Monroe, Montour, Northumberland, Pike, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Wayne, Wyoming Scranton UC Service Center 30 Stauffer Industrial Park Taylor, PA 18517-9625
Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Butler, Franklin, Fulton, Indiana, Lawrence, Mercer, Somerset, Westmoreland Indiana UC Service Center 630 Kolter Dr. Indiana, PA 15701-3570
Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Washington Duquesne UC Service Center 14 N. Linden St. Duquesne, PA 15110-1067

When once you have applied for the UI benefits, the concerned Department of Labor and Industry will send you three mailers within a span of 10 days.

The first mailer will have An official Notice of Financial Determination with your data, read all the instructions on the reverse of the notice for filing an appeal if any of the mentioned data is found to be false.

In the second mailer, you will be receiving a Claim Confirmation Letter (which is form UC-360). It confirms that your application has been processed at the department. You’ll be provided with a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to file for departmental internet claim and to use PA Teleclaims (PAT) for filing a claim over a telephone. When and how to file for claims for weekly benefits, will be mentioned in the letter you would have received along with the form.

The third mailer contains the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Handbook, which should answer most of your doubts. It also contains various responsibilities of a person enrolled in this program and generally delves out all the relevant information on how to deal with all kinds of stuff when you’re unemployed. So read the UC Handbook received in your mail thoroughly and understand its contents.

Fileunemployment.org has built a free and unique tool to calculate your approximate benefits if you’re entitled to it. It’s always good to know how much you’re eligible beforehand so that you can accordingly prepare your budget, to run through thick and thin of your unemployment period. Well, mostly thin in this case.

How To Qualify For Unemployment Insurance In PA?

Qualifying for benefits involves these 3 steps in the state of Pennsylvania:

  1. You must be financially eligible.
  2. You must have a qualifying separation from employment.
  3. You must continuously maintain your eligibility for benefits, by satisfying the UC laws.

Step 1: Financial Eligibility For UI Claims

If you have garnered enough wages and that too for enough number of work weeks, then you’re financially eligible to claim for unemployment benefits. If this initial condition is satisfied, then you’ll receive a Notice of Financial Determination, also called form UC-44F, which mostly explains about the probable amount of benefits you may end up receiving on a weekly basis. Read the Notice and any other supporting documentation which might have come along with the form to learn about your financial eligibility for easy UI claims.

Step 2: Qualifying Separation For UI Claims

You must be laid off or working reduced number of hours with no fault of yours to qualify for unemployment benefits.

The following circumstances DO NOT qualify for your benefits in UI claims:

  1. You voluntarily quit your job, without substantial reason.
  2. You’re suspended from your job because of Wilful Misconduct.
  3. You’ve actively participated in work stoppage determined to be a strike.

A representative from the department will be contacting you and your previous employer to know the reasons for your present unemployment. And if the reasons for your employment are in contention either from you or your employer then you’ll be provided a chance to explain your side of the story so that there is clarity among all the concerned parties regarding the reasons for your unemployment. Say, something like a questionnaire may have to be filled and returned so that the representative is able to resolve all the issues raised, based on your response. However, if benefits are still denied, you can always appeal against the decision.

It could so happen that you could already be receiving the benefits and then a review can also take place later on. You’ll be served with the Advance Notice form, which will give you a chance to give all the necessary information about your eligibility to continue to receive UC benefits unless a written ineligibility has been issued against your favor.

Part-Time Work

Part-time employees could also be eligible for benefits if the following circumstances are true:

  1. Your regular work hours are reduced.
  2. You have obtained partial employment elsewhere with fewer work hours after being separated from your job.
  3. You are separated from one job but continue to be employed by another employer on a part-time basis.

You’re not eligible for benefits if you’re working your normal hours of work per week with your regular employer or company.

Step 3: Maintaining Your Eligibility For UI Claims

Maintaining your eligibility on a continuous basis is pivotal since your benefits are available to you on a weekly basis. Failing to adhere to certain factors will make you lose your UC benefits. So here’s a heads up for you:

  1. Filing your Biweekly Claim
  2. Work registration requirements
  3. Work search requirements
  4. Able and Available requirement

How To File A Biweekly Claim In PA?

Whenever you are either partially or fully unemployed, you are required to file a claim each week. The claim week ending date shall always be a Saturday and is called as a CWE Date because the regular calendar for a week begins on Sunday and ends on a Saturday.

Generally, you must file for two weeks at once and is called a biweekly claim. However, you need to certify that you’re eligible for the benefits each week separately.

PA Unemployment Compensation program you need to know about!
Tips to claim UI benefits in PA

Filing over the Internet: You can directly access the Pennsylvania biweekly claims section online on Sundays from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. This is the recommended way of filing.

Filing by Telephone (PAT): You can also file a UI claim via Telephone. The toll-free numbers are 888-255-4728 and 877-888-8104 (Spanish).

Filing by TTY: You can opt for TTY message services 24 hours a day, from Sunday to Friday for filing your biweekly claims at 888-334-4046.

Videophone Service: American Sign Language (ASL) videophone service is available for individual workers every Wednesday from noon to 4 p.m. at 717-704-8474. This Videophone service is strictly for sign language only.

Work Registration Requirements

You shouldn’t let go of your steam thinking that the government is paying for your survival, you must follow the rules, you must protect the system, remember that!

You must register yourself within 30 days after filing for UI benefits for the employment-search services offered through JobGateway® and if you experience difficulties in registering or face issues such as partial registration, etc, then contact your local Pennsylvania CareerLink® office.

Work Search Requirements

From the beginning of the third week from your Benefit year, you’re supposed to apply for two jobs and participate in one job search program weekly. And you have to maintain a weekly report which lists the search requirements carried out by you.

You have seven types of work searching activity:

  • Attend job fairs
  • Search for posted positions on JobGateway®
  • Create or post your resume on JobGateway®
  • Contact your former colleagues and enquire about employment opportunities available
  • Participate in a program offered by CareerLink®
  • Take up Civil Service test or pre-employment tests
  • Sign up with an employment agency or a school placement service

Ability And Availability For Work

This section is self-explanatory. All you need is to be able to work, available to work and willing to return to work which could either be your old job or a new one.

You’ll be disqualified, if:

  • You’re incapable of performing any work due to physical limitations
  • You’re outside your labor market or country on a vacation (Contact your UC service center before leaving the country)
  • You do not have a way to reach work in a timely manner
  • You’re imprisoned
  • You do not have a childcare facility for your baby

How Are Benefits Paid In PA?

Your first benefit payment will be received within four weeks after filing your initial biweekly claim application. The benefits are paid every other week, usually within four days of filing your biweekly claim, but it may take up to ten days to receive the benefit payments in some cases. The benefit payment is either a direct deposit or paid through your debit card. Refer more for Claims Confirmation Letter on choosing which option to use.

Your Recent Payment Information and Payment History can be obtained by either logging in to your account or by calling PAT at 888-255-8728 on Sunday from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. You can also fax a request for obtaining two free copies to the UC service center at 717-525-5160, you’ll be charged for additional copies.

Your Benefits Appeal Right In PA

Under Article V of the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law, the Department of Labor & Industry promptly examine each application for benefits and determines whether your application is accepted. The law also provides for an appeal process to allow claimants to object to an unemployment compensation determination in order to ensure that every individual is given an opportunity for a fair hearing.

There are three levels for a claimant to appeal for UI claim denial:

  • UC Service Center Determination: Within 15 days of the mailing date of the determination, you may appeal a UC Service Center determination to a Referee.
  • UC Referee Decision: Within 15 days of the mailing date of the Referee decision, you may appeal a Referee’s decision to the Board.
  • UC Board Of Review Decision: Within 30 days of the mailing date of the Board decision, you may appeal a UC Board of Review decision to a Commonwealth Court.

Stay Away From Frauds

If you fail to report payments or end up deceiving the authorities about your eligibility, then you should expect to be caught. Giving false information to the Department of Labor & Industry or withholding information to obtain UC Benefits may be charged and criminally prosecuted under various existing Pennsylvania laws like:

  • Unsworn falsification to authorities
  • Theft by deception and
  • False statements or representations to obtain or increase compensation

If you are prosecuted you may be subject to a fine, imprisonment, restitution, summons of federal tax refunds and loss of future UI benefits.

You Are Employed, What Next?

If you return to full-time work then notify the UC Service Center about it immediately. After intimating the information, you’re no longer unemployed and thus, you’re not eligible for your weekly UI Benefits.

If you intend to start a spin-off venture on your own, then you’re considered to be Self-employed, so you will no longer be eligible for UI benefits, even if your business isn’t making a profit. But, UI benefits can be still claimed if your business is a “sideline” activity matching the following criteria:

  • You are able and available for full-time work
  • You do not engage in your business the whole time
  • Your business is not the primary source of your livelihood

Keep It Working, Pennsylvania!

You now know what all goes into the filing of claims for UI Benefits in the state of PA. We invite you to actively participate in our community for making a difference and connecting with dozens of other people who are sailing in the same boat as yours. Know that it’s never too late to change and you can always enhance your knowledge base from our forum. Believe that this current situation is beatable and that you can make it as good as anybody else. Good luck and Godspeed!

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  1. I had trouble getting my proof of self-employment to upload in secure file exchange and finally got it submitted by 12:06 am , 6 minutes late. What are the possibilities that they will deny it? I have received unemployment from March 2020 to some of Jan and some in Feb 2021. Most of Dec, Jan, Feb, March, & april were stopped for this proof of employment.
    Also, I see proof of Income as a 2nd issue but it is always on there. That was not on my TO DO list.
    I feel for u all on ID.ME…

    Anyone trying to reach UI, call their number, press 2 or 3 (questions abt filing a claim?) and then wait thru the message. At the end of it, u will be connected to a live person! I promise.. don’t push another button.. I’ve done it 4 times and it never failed.

    We lost our home, my ex took my child…. (kept her after a visit and called cps facilitating drama while the cops wouldn’t give her back without paperwork locked up in the court house..shut down for covid) I raised her by myself for 12 years & now she is with a violent alcoholic and parental alienating parent .. ….my dog, my 9-year sweet little best friend, was attacked, passing away 3 days later.. all in this time frame.
    But! It will all be ok. I have faith.

    Be grateful for your life and all that is in it today. What u dwell on daily will be your strength or weakness.
    Good luck to all of u.
    And thank you, Jeff, for responding out here. It is appreciated!
    Davulia S.

  2. I filed over two months ago. I have not received any information. My status says “pending resolution”. I have no way of contacting anyone. My position was eliminated at my job and I submitted the documentations online. I dont know what else I can do.

  3. I have been apply Ohio Pua unemployment since July 5th still pending issues. Upload what they ask for when ever I call says your case is in Adjudication. Very very frustrated, financially I am broke. Health issues. Waiting a long period.Don’t know what I will do ?

    1. Nafisa,

      I can understand your situation. There will be a delay considering the number of applications that are being processed. Please continue chasing the office/check your status online at regular intervals until payments normalize.

    2. Same here since Feb 2021 turned in all the documents still pending issues 3 months now. When you call they tell you to be patient. Pulling my hair out it’s so frustrating.

  4. I was receiving PUA unemployment. they made me file for a new claim in February. Now I am in adjudication even though I gave all the same information from my previous claim. Have been adjudication since February and I call and they say they will put in a ticket to have an Adjudicator call me. Nothing. I am wondering If I can go down to to Maryland Unemployment Office and demand that someone talk with me to release my claim for payment. It’s been 56 days. I read that they have a maximum of 45 days.

    1. Luis,

      Your adjudicator may be inundated with pending cases. Please continue to follow up (if you have the contact details) or consider the option of visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible.

    2. t sounds just like mine only im disqualified yet actie every till sept 4th . they haven’t asked me for anything! i file then its disqualified yet im told im ok and have nothing to do bit wait for an answer? answer to what? they switched my program and all and asked me to provide proof for a claim that wa denied al eady back in 2018! deny me once and then again perhaps? lol idk

  5. My mom had unemployment in Florida. She just recently moved temporally to California with a sister since she needs assistance, and now the website is telling her she cannot do anything because she is register in another state. Can she keep filing unemployment in Florida, even if she is living and register now in another state? how is the process to change the unemployment? I tried calling and there is no answer. Thank you!

    1. Stephanie,

      Please ask your mother to consider transferring the UI benefits from FL to CA (details will be available on either of the websites). If there are benefits weeks left in the account, she will be able to claim them.

    1. Leatha,

      UI benefits are offered to claimants who lose employment involuntarily and be able to and available for work.

  6. I lived in ga in 2019 and move to florida in 2020 and work for the xmas months in nov-dec. I was told to do a combine wage claim. my question is which state do i file the claim in?

  7. I filed for pua in Ohio back in October 2020.My claim has been in ajudacatuon since 11/1/20.So 2 to 6 weeks is a total understatement! When I call.i am told to basically hurry up and wait some more.I have recently been redetermined and my claim is allowed.but I have one pending issue.How long is too long?

    1. Nicole,

      Unfortunately, nobody has an answer. There are perhaps thousands of pending applications. Please consider the option of visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible.

  8. If you claim your weeks for unemployment and for the next 2 months you still have not received your money. Where can you go in volusia county to talk with a live person

      1. HI Jeff,
        I applied back in Dec 5th, 2020 and I haven’t received any correspondence, is there a local office that I can make an appt to make certain my claim is right.

        1. Adam,

          You can consider visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible (details will be available on the Unemployment Office’s website).

  9. On NYS DOL website, my claim is saying current yet the information is for my old claim with 0 days remaining despite receiving 2 weeks of payments on the new claim and I was able to certify last night. I haven’t received anything; no letters or emails.

  10. I was disqualified for UI benefits for not providing an ID and other forms of identification. How do I fix this?

        1. Gary,

          You may not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.

    1. Hi Mike, I’m in NYS and was at the end of my BYE on 3/14, I was still certifying but wasn’t getting paid. I found out I had to file a new claim because my other was exhausted. I’m still waiting on approval. Maybe you have to file a new claim. I hope this helps.

  11. They say 2-6 weeks it’s more accurate to say 2-6 months; and when you call many of them are rude and unwilling to assist!

  12. someone needs to look into Sharon L. Anton gillette, wyo. or dickinson, nd she is a fraud and has done so many fraudulent things and please look into her

    1. Annette,

      Please report it to the Fraud Division of the Unemployment Office in your state. You can report on the website.

  13. I worked part time for thee years here in florida. I’m currently not working. I’m also retired and collects social security.
    My question is
    Am I qualified to file for unemployment ?

    1. Ruby,

      To be eligible, you’re required to have sufficient hours and earnings. Please use the “Benefits Calculator” available on this website.

  14. So adjudication takes 8 to 12 weeks. Oh okay, that explains why I havent received payment since July. That surely helps just like the rest of the information that you give. And by the way. What’s the NEW reason you can’t get through to the Call Center.

    1. Maria,
      I have gotten through to the call center (live agent) every time i’ve tried calling within the last 2 weeks. The number to a live agent (follow the prompts carefully) is (667)-207-6520. i have gotten through within 10 to 15 mins with each call i had made!

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