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Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment Benefits

If you have lost your job through no fault of your own, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits.

This guide will help you navigate the process of applying for unemployment compensation and connect you with additional resources available as part of the federal and state response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Quick Links

Important Updates

NOTICE: Federal unemployment benefit programs, including Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), ended on September 4, 2021.

Other resources are still available to those who may need them.

Unemployment Compensation

Eligibility

These resources can help you decide if you may be eligible:

We cannot say for certain if you are eligible, ineligible, or what your repayment may be until you file an initial application. Your eligibility will ultimately be based on the information provided by you and your employer(s).

Benefits

Unemployment benefits are calculated as a percentage of your average pay over a recent 52-week period. Here’s how you can calculate your weekly benefit rate.

If you are eligible for benefits, you should receive your first benefit payment within four weeks after the effective date of your application, provided you file your weekly certifications on time.

Moving forward, you’ll receive payment within two to three days after filing your weekly certification.

Process Overview

1. File Initial Application

If you file online, you’ll receive a confirmation page at the end of the online application AND a confirmation email. This email will include the date you will need to file your continued claim — also called your weekly certification.

No matter what day of the week you submit your initial claim, it will be effective on Sunday. Your initial claim will remain active for one year and between 18 and 26 full weeks of benefit payments will be available if you are eligible for benefits (see the calculation of weekly benefit rate explanation).

2. Receive Claim Confirmation Letter via your UC Dashboard Communication Preference

Your 4-digit PIN will only be necessary to file your weekly claim if you file via the PA Teleclaims (PAT).

3. File Weekly Certification

You will file weekly certifying your eligibility for each week separately. For UC purposes, a week is a calendar week that begins Sunday and ends Saturday.

You’ll file online or using PA Teleclaims (PAT) by calling 888-255-4728.

It can take several weeks to receive the approval of your first weekly certification if there is a UC eligibility issue with your employment. You should continue to file weekly certifications during this time.

Moving forward, you’ll receive payment within two to three days after filing your weekly certification. If you file on:

  • Sunday = funds available by Tuesday
  • Monday = funds available by Wednesday
  • Tuesday = funds available by Thursday
  • Wednesday = funds available by Friday
  • Thursday = funds available by Monday
  • Friday or Saturday = funds available by Tuesday

Note: Payments may be delayed if there is an eligibility issue that must be resolved before payment can be made.

Don’t forget to file your weekly certification or you could lose your benefits.

4. Receive Financial Determination Letter

Keep this letter in a safe place. It states your financial eligibility. Financial determination letters are typically received within 3 business days via your UC Dashboard communication preference.

Your financial determination letter will tell you:

  • Your benefit year begin date AND the date your benefit year expires.
  • Your weekly benefit amount and eligible weeks AND how they were calculated.
  • How much you will receive if you are totally unemployed and how to estimate your partial benefits for part-time work.

5. Claim Issues

If there is an issue with your claim, you will be asked to contact our team by the system. Please do so via your UC dashboard. For specific questions about your claim, provide your full name (as it appears on your aclaim, including any suffix used) and the last four digits of your Social Security Number and submit via email at uchelp@pa.gov.

How to File

What You Need Before You Get Started

Personal Information:

  • SSN.
  • Home address and mailing address (if different).
  • Telephone number.
  • Valid email.
  • Personal Identification Number (optional). If you have previously filed a UC claim using your previous PIN can prevent you from having to re-enter information.
  • Direct deposit bank information (optional): Bank name, address, account number, and routing number.

In some cases, additional information is needed. For a complete list, view our requirements checklist.

Information about Separating Employer:

  • Employer’s name, address, and phone number.
  • Employer’s PA UC account number (if known).
  • First and last day worked with employer.
  • Reason for leaving or the reason you are working fewer hours.
  • Pension or severance package information (if applicable).

Tools to Help You File

  • Frequently Asked Questions – A resource to help answer any questions you may have about filing or receiving unemployment compensation benefits, including eligibility, how your weekly benefit is calculated, and more.
  • Self-service Step-by-step Instructions – These step-by-step guides and instructions will guide you through many UC online services, including how to file an initial claim, how to file a weekly certification, and more.
  • New UC System Resources – Video tutorials, workshop recordings, and more.

File an Initial Application

You should file your UC application for benefits using one of the following methods:

  • Online – An online application can be filed using our secure website 7 days a week, 24 hours
  • Telephone – An application can be filed on the statewide unemployment compensation toll-free number at 1-888-313-7284.
  • For claimants filing a NEW claim: If you are filing for benefits for the first time, you need to contact the UC Service Center (888-313-7284; Monday – Friday from 8am to 4pm) and let them know you’ll need to file by phone in the future. The UC Service Center will file an initial application and provide you a PIN number to use while filing over the phone in the future.
  • Videophone service – For individuals who use American Sign Language (ASL) 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 through the Videophone.

Reopen an Existing Claim

If you fall into one of the categories listed below, you should reopen your existing claim.

  1. You established a claim for benefits within the past year, and then gained employment and stopped filing for UC benefits. If you become unemployed again, you should reopen your claim during the first week that you are unemployed again.
  2. You established a claim, but you stopped filing claims because you were ill, hospitalized, or otherwise unable to work. You should reopen your claim as soon as you are able and available for work again.

“Reopen” claimss can be filed using the same methods listed above for filing an initial application for UC benefits.

File a Weekly Certification

After you have filed your initial application for UC benefits or reopened an existing claim, you must file a certification for each week in which you are totally or partially unemployed.

A week for UC purposes begins on a Sunday and ends on a Saturday. The compensable week ending (CWE) date is always a Saturday.

In most cases, you will file claims for weekly or every two weeks at one time. You will get paid according to when you file.

Filing can be done using the following methods:

If you are eligible for benefits, you should receive your first benefit payment within four weeks after the effective date of your application, provided you file your certifications on time.

COVID-19 Benefits

NOTICE: Federal unemployment benefit programs, including Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), will end September 4, 2021.

If you are employed in Pennsylvania and are unable to work because of COVID-19, you may be eligible for regular unemployment compensation benefits.

In addition to regular unemployment compensation benefits, which provide roughly half of an individual’s full-time weekly income up to $572 per week, the federal CARES Act expanded UC benefits through several new programs:

Questions?

If you have an issue with your claim, there are several ways to contact UC staff.

Email – For claims questions, email uchelp@pa.gov and include your full name as it appears on your claim (including suffix used) and the last four digits of your Social Security number. Get email wait response times here. We respond to emails in the order we receive them, so sending duplicates will not result in a quicker response and will actually cause delays for everyone.

Pennsylvania Teleclaims (PAT)– This automated self-service system can be used to file weekly or biweekly UC certifications, access specific benefit payment information, or learn about UC without needing to talk to a person. For English, call 888-255-4728. For Spanish, call 877-888-8104.

TTY Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing – Call 888-334-4046 Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Videophone service for ASL users – Call 717-704-8474 Wednesdays from Noon to 4:00 PM. Sign language is the ONLY means of communication provided at this number.

UC Service Call Center – If you have tried other methods to find your answer without success, try the UC Service Call Center phone – Call 888-313-7284 Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM to reach UC staff. The best time to try calling the UC service center is Thursdays and Fridays. Be prepared for heavy call volumes, busy signals, and potential delays in getting through.

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