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Pennsylvania Unemployment Benefits

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Pennsylvania unemployment benefits are extended to local workers who need financial assistance while they are searching for a new job. In most cases, petitioners are able to claim unemployment benefits when they meet specific state-regulated criteria, such as those relating to finances and the circumstances surrounding why they were terminated from their old positions. Meeting the eligibility for unemployment requirements is imperative for candidates hoping to enroll in state unemployment insurance (UI) benefits.

Candidates looking for information regarding how to apply for unemployment online or what types of documents they will need to complete the forms will find the information below. Furthermore, applicants must remember that state UI coverage must adhere to standards set forth by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry and the federal government. Therefore, it is extremely important that applicants meet all qualifications for UI and adhere to all deadlines. Otherwise, candidates risk having their claims denied.

What is unemployment in Pennsylvania?

The Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation (UC) program is intended to provide local workers with supporting funds after their positions with previous employers are terminated. These unemployment insurance benefits are available on a rolling basis, so candidates who lose their jobs later in the fiscal year should not be concerned that funds will not be available to them. As a result, candidates should submit a UI claim as soon as they become unemployed.

What are the requirements to get unemployment in Pennsylvania?

In order to determine their eligibility for unemployment in PA, the Department of Labor & Industry will assess applicants’ financial and circumstantial eligibility. Additionally, candidates are required to have worked in Pennsylvania during the past 12 to 18 months.

To calculate the financial aspect of UI eligibility, the Department will take into account how much money candidates made during their corresponding base periods. When determining qualifications for unemployment, the Department breaks the calendar into four quarters:

  • Quarter A — January, February, March
  • Quarter B — April, May, June
  • Quarter C — July, August, September
  • Quarter D — October, November, December

When determining base periods that will be used to verify UI eligibility, the Department evaluates the wages the candidate earned during four consecutive quarters. This works backwards, and the quarters they use are determined by excluding the current quarter and the one before it. For example, a candidate who applies for UI benefits in February will not have any of their wages included from January or the previous year’s last three months. Therefore, this individual’s base period would include the 12 months that led up to September last year.

Once the base week is established, the Department will determine who qualifies for UI. Regarding circumstantial eligibility, qualifications for unemployment in Pennsylvania indicate that candidates must be without work due to situations that were outside of their control. Reasons for termination that fall into one of the following categories are unlikely to warrant UI qualifications:

  • Firing — Candidates who are discharged because they willfully underperform at work, fail a drug test or disregard general standards of behavior are unlikely to qualify for UI compensation.
  • Quitting — Candidates who quit due to transportation reasons, school conflicts or simply disliking the job will have difficulty applying for UI benefits.

How can I sign up for unemployment in Pennsylvania?

Candidates searching for information regarding how to apply for unemployment online in PA will notice there are several other ways they may submit their materials. For example, petitioners may elect to submit their information over the phone or by completing a paper application and mailing it to a UC service center. In addition, American Sign Language users have the option of submitting their claims via the state videophone service.

Whether submitting an online application for unemployment or if using a different method, candidates will be required to provide the following personal information:

  • Social Security Number.
  • Pennsylvania driver’s license (if applicable).
  • Alien Registration number (if applicable).
  • Telephone number and email address.
  • Home address and mailing address.

In order to apply for unemployment benefits, military personnel and federal government employees will need to submit their relevant documents as well. To compliment this documentation, claimants are also required to include information relating to their most recent employers. For example, candidates must denote:

  • Employer’s name and address.
  • Start and end dates for this most recent job.
  • Reason for leaving.
  • Any severance pay the claimant receives.
  • Names and addresses for any employers within the past 18 months.

When candidates file for unemployment, they will also be prompted to decide whether they would like to receive their checks via direct deposit or through the state debit card system. If they choose the former, during the UI registration process, they will also need to submit their bank information, such as their account and routing numbers.

How do I prepare for the unemployment insurance interview in Pennsylvania?

In some cases, applicants may be required to participate in an unemployment phone interview. Their employers will likely be requested to have their own conversations with the intermittent intake interviewers (IIIs), as well. These UC representatives are trained to ask specific questions, and the UI interview is an important part of the application process. Generally, the Department will request an unemployment interview with an employer or candidate when the parties offer conflicting information. Another common reason for there to be an unemployment interview with claimant is because the petitioner submitted information that was incomplete or unclear. Therefore, both parties should take time to prepare for the UI interview because this means the Department needs more information before it can make a decision regarding the applicant’s case.

To prepare for the Pennsylvania UI interview, both parties should gather any relevant documents they have that support their claims. Any discrepancies and inconsistencies can only be resolved with written proof, so any documents or printed emails that show written warnings, exit interview notes or attempts to remedy the work situation must be prepared ahead of time. Furthermore, both parties must remember that their goals should not be to figure out how to pass the unemployment insurance interview. These conversations are not graded. Simply, they are used to help UC representatives decide if claimants meet the basic requirements to enroll in the program. As a result, throughout the UI phone interview, both parties should be concerned with providing as honest and accurate information as possible. The phone calls are usually short, but the Department reserves the right to make additional follow-up calls, as necessary.

How do I claim unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania?

Applicants may claim unemployment benefits in PA once their cases have been approved. Acceptance and rejection letters are mailed to candidates, and their employers are notified of these decisions as well. However, enrollees must continue submitting information in order to keep an unemployment benefits claim active. Every two weeks, program participants are responsible for claiming benefits for UI, and they must do so by submitting their recertifications online or by phone. For Department purposes, compensation week end dates always fall on Saturdays, so candidates must be sure to submit their information before then.

When applicants submit their information to claim UI benefits, they must report all income they earned during the weeks for which they are reporting. As they prepare an unemployment benefits claim, claimants must be sure to report any wages they earned during that time, any union supplemental benefits they receive or unused vacation pay their employers gave them. Failure to accurately claim benefits for unemployment is a crime, and enrollees who do this may be prosecuted or permanently dismissed from the program.

What do I do if I am denied unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania?

If claimants are denied unemployment in Pennsylvania through the UC’s determination, they are able to file an appeal. All UC appeals must be postmarked within 15 days from when the determination is mailed, and these requests are sent to an Appeals Referee by email, fax or traditional mail. Candidates who are denied UI benefits again at the Appeals level may submit another appeal to the board. These appeals must be filed within 15 days from when the referee’s decision was mailed.

Not only can claimants submit an unemployment denial appeal, but employers who disagree with these decisions may request appeals, as well. Employers follow a similar procedure. Regardless, when UI benefits are denied or when employers hope to overturn a decision, they are responsible for bringing new, credible information to these hearings. While these procedures are relatively informal, both parties should still arrive at their hearings prepared. Employers and employees are permitted to bring witnesses to their hearings, and either group can have legal counsel present. Qualifying applicants who are denied UI may be entitled to obtain free legal representation through the state of Pennsylvania.

How can I apply for a federal unemployment extension in Pennsylvania?

A federal unemployment extension is a national or statewide offering when there are above average periods of joblessness in an area. These are usually offered during recessions or other periods of economic stress, and the unemployment benefits extension would allow for UI recipients to receive compensation beyond the 26-week limit. However, receiving a UI extension is not common. When it is available, though, enrollees are eligible for the extension once they have exhausted the state’s maximum enrollment.

How do I contact the Pennsylvania unemployment office?

Unemployment candidates may find it beneficial to speak with a representative at the Pennsylvania unemployment office. Petitioners can contact city-specific UC Service Centers via their toll-free numbers. In addition, petitioners can find the UC’s physical office in the state’s capital at:


651 Boas Street

Harrisburg, PA 17121

Pennsylvania Unemployment Office Locations


Department of Labor and Industry 1700 Labor and Industry Bldg. 7th and Forster Streets Harrisburg, PA 17120 (717) 787-5279 View Website Unemployement Claim File

Find Unemployment Office Locations

There are 61 Pennsylvania Unemployment Office Locations