Unemployment Questions and Answers

During these difficult times concerning COVID-19 we know a lot of you have questions regarding unemployment. To help everyone find their way through the process we wanted to walk everyone through the new unemployment guidelines such as if you can apply, how you can apply and how the unemployment process works.

Eligibility:

Something that has changed somewhat due to COVID-19 is eligibility and Department of Labor and Industry has put up a Frequently Asked Question Page, which you can access by clicking here, that goes over the most often asked questions regarding unemployment and the current crisis. This page should do a good job of answering any questions you may have on whether you are eligible to apply. You will also need a few things to apply:

  • Social Security number
  • Home address, mailing address (if different from your home address)
  • Telephone number
  • Valid email address
  • Name of the employer where you are no longer working or for whom you are working reduced hours
  • The employer’s complete mailing address, phone and fax number, email address, and employer UC account number, if known
  • First and last dates you worked for this employer
  • Gross earnings during your last week of employment, if available
  • Reason you left or, if still working, the reason you are working fewer hours

Application Process:

If you are filing an initial application for UC benefits, you should receive three separate mailings within 10 working days after mailing your application. The items you will receive are:

  1. An official Notice of Financial Determination: When you receive the Notice of Financial Determination, please review it carefully. If any of the information on your financial determination is incorrect, follow the instructions on the reverse side of the form for filing an appeal.
  2. A Claim Confirmation Letter: The Claim Confirmation Letter will contain your confidential Personal Identification Number (PIN) which you will use to access UC services. PLEASE SAVE IT. The Claim Confirmation Letter will also instruct you when to file your biweekly claim
  3. An Unemployment Compensation Handbook: This handbook provides information regarding the unemployment compensation program and your rights and responsibilities. Please read and keep this handbook for reference for one year

FILING AN INITIAL CLAIM, please use this link to be directed to the Unemployment Website.

If you are filing an initial application for UC benefits, you should receive three separate mailings within 10 working days after mailing your application. The items you will receive are:

  1. An official Notice of Financial Determination: When you receive the Notice of Financial Determination, please review it carefully. If any of the information on your financial determination is incorrect, follow the instructions on the reverse side of the form for filing an appeal.
  2. A Claim Confirmation Letter: The Claim Confirmation Letter will contain your confidential Personal Identification Number (PIN) which you will use to access UC services. PLEASE SAVE IT. The Claim Confirmation Letter will also instruct you when to file your biweekly claim
  3. An Unemployment Compensation Handbook: This handbook provides information regarding the unemployment compensation program and your rights and responsibilities. Please read and keep this handbook for reference for one year

If someone loses their PIN or cannot find their old PIN if they had a previous claim, please follow this link for assistance – https://expressforms.pa.gov/apps/pa/DLI-UC/Pin-Request

BiWeekly Claims:

In order to receive benefits, you must file biweekly claims for the weeks you are totally or partially unemployed. The first eligible week on your claim is called the Waiting Week. Benefits are not payable for the Waiting Week but you must file a claim for that week in order to receive credit for it. As such, your first UC payment will be for one week of benefits. There are two ways to file your biweekly claim:

  1. Internet filing is available here
  2. Telephone filing via Pennsylvania Teleclaims-PAT system at 888-255-4728

Important Biweekly Claim Note: If you receive this message while filing your biweekly claim “You currently have a claim established; however, it is inactive. If you wish to reactivate or reopen your claim in order to file for benefits, you may do so online or by calling your UC Service Center at 1-888-313-7284.” DO NOT REOPEN ANOTHER CLAIM!  This statement doesn’t mean they haven’t received your claim, they just haven’t activated your claim at this time.  Please keep trying every day.

To file due to COVID-19 the following questions should be answered accordingly: 

  • Able and Available:  When answering the question, answer YES if you are physically able and available for work and your unemployment is a result of or related to COVID-19
  • Separation:  When answering this question – the reason for their unemployment – respond “Lack of Work” if your unemployment is a result of or related to COVID-19.  If you respond “Other” your claim will be put on hold until an investigation is completed.
  • Earnings or Wages: When answering this question, report only actual earnings for the period in question – not what you would have earned if you were working.

Unemployment Benefits Extented 13 Weeks:

Pennsylvanians who have an expired Unemployment Compensation claim or have exhausted their benefits under an existing claim can receive an additional 13 weeks of benefits through the new Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.

Under the new program, if an individual has an open claim and exhausts their benefits, the additional 13 weeks will be automatically added to their existing claim. If a claimant’s benefits have expired, they must submit an application for the extended benefit online or mail a paper application.

Benefits will be available retroactive to the benefit week ending April 4. The extended benefits will be available through December 26 for claimants who have exhausted regular benefits. 

For Problems Contact my Office:

If you run into trouble contacting unemployment for your initial claim, haven’t received a PIN or handbook, filed a Bi-Weekly claim and it hasn’t been activated yet, please feel free to contact our office at 724-774-0444, evogel@pasen.gov, or www.senatoreldervogel.com/contact-me/

Are you a business owner looking for assistance? ​

The Department of Labor & Industry has opened the online portal to file for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. The program is for individuals who are ineligible for regular UC but lost income due to COVID-19 and are self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers, or have limited work history.

The portal can be accessed here: https://pua.benefits.uc.pa.gov/vosnet/Default.aspx.

The Department of Labor & Industry has opened the online portal to file for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. The program is for individuals who are ineligible for regular UC but lost income due to COVID-19 and are self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers, or have limited work history.

The portal can be accessed here: https://pua.benefits.uc.pa.gov/vosnet/Default.aspx

The Shared-Work program can help keep employees attached to your workplace by allowing an employer to temporarily reduce work hours rather than resorting to layoffs. You can reach the Shared-Work team at sharedwork@pa.gov.

However, if you are a business that has had to close either temporarily, consider layoffs, or is financially at-risk for permanent closure the Rapid Response Assistance Program is available to assist you with a variety of services and resources to help you and your employees. You can reach the Rapid Response team via email at RA-LI-BWPO-Rapid@pa.gov.

Additional resources for businesses are available through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development.

 If you earn your primary income from working in your own business or farm, you may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which was created as part of the federal CARES Act that became law on March 27, 2020. The Department will provide information about how to apply for PUA on our website as soon as it becomes available. 

PUA is a separate program from regular UC. Small business owners and self-employed individuals are not eligible for regular UC. 

Small businesses may qualify for a small business loan through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development, or for other programs available through the Small Business Administration including the Paycheck Protection Program.

Claimants with issues backdating claims should e-mail ucpua@pa.gov with their full name and Claimant ID number if they have not done so already. Appeals can be filed at ucappeals@pa.gov.