Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March, more than 2.1 million people have applied for unemployment compensation in Pennsylvania.
While the federal programs have changed, Pennsylvania’s normal unemployment benefits remain unaffected, and you can still apply to receive weekly benefits. But the process can be confusing.
So how do you apply for unemployment, and what does the process look like? Here is what you need to know:
People in Pennsylvania may be eligible to receive unemployment compensation in a number of situations. According to the Office of Unemployment Compensation, those scenarios include:
Typically, you can get regular unemployment benefits if you have been laid off or had your hours reduced. However, if you are self-employed or are an independent contractor or gig worker and your work has been affected by the pandemic, you may qualify for compensation under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, even if you’re not otherwise eligible for unemployment.
You can file for unemployment online via the Office of Unemployment Compensation’s website, by telephone at 1-888-313-7284, or by mail with a paper application. If you use American Sign Language, a videophone service is available on Wednesdays from noon to 4 p.m. at 717-704-8474.
To apply, you will need to supply some personal information, including:
If you are eligible to collect unemployment, you should begin receiving your benefits two to four weeks after filing your claim. Funds will be issued via a debit card from the Unemployment Compensation office, or through direct deposit. You will still need to file a bi-weekly claim to continue receiving money.
Yes, in a few important ways.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, people filing for unemployment would not get benefits for their first week of unemployment. That has since been suspended, and people who are eligible to receive benefits can now start receiving them right away.
Another change: The work search requirements have been waived. That means that you don’t have to show that you have been looking for a new job in order to continue receiving compensation.
You also get benefits for longer. The amount of time that you can receive unemployment benefits has gone up. Benefits used to stop after 26 weeks; now, the time maxes out at 39 weeks, with an additional 13 weeks of benefits provided under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. That program is designed to provide additional weekly funds to people who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits.