Getting let go from your place of employment can be devastating, especially if you have a family to take care of and bills to pay. Unemployment benefits were created specifically for this purpose. These benefits are intended to provide an unemployed worker with the means to find a new career opportunity without suffering financial duress.
Unemployment laws are a combined federal and state initiative, so the laws can very from state to state. In Pennsylvania, the Department of Labor and Industry Office of Unemployment Compensation oversees unemployment benefits. Find out how you can collect unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania.
What to do if you lose your job?
If you have recently lost your job, it is important to get “in the unemployment line” as soon as possible. Applying for unemployment is as easy as calling on the phone, going in person, or applying online.
What are the eligibility requirements in order to receive unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania?
Unemployment benefits are determined on a case-by-case basis. In order to qualify for unemployment you have to meet all of the following criteria in order to collect unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania:
- Financial eligibility – One of the first steps in determining unemployment benefits eligibility, is determining if you meet the financial requirements. Did your prior earnings meet the required threshold? Pennsylvania uses a one-year base period to determine your financial eligibility. More specifically, the base period is calculated from the first 4 of the 5 quarters before you filed your unemployment claim. In order to meet the threshold, you must have earned a minimum of $116 per week during the first 18 weeks, $1,688 in the first quarter, and $3,391 in total wages during the base period. Once you file for unemployment, you will receive a notice of determination that indicates whether you are financially eligible or not.
- Nature of Job Loss – Your unemployment must be the result of no fault of your own. The Department of Labor makes a decision based on a combined evaluation of the facts that you provide, as well as the facts that your employer provides to determine whether you are eligible or not.
- Availability to Work – Those who are unemployed must be actively seeking work. Unemployment is only meant to be temporary, so you have to be able to prove that you are actively seeking employment in order to be considered eligible. Within 30 days of applying for unemployment benefits, you must register yourself on www.pacareerlink.pa.gov. Additionally, you must apply for at least 2 jobs and conduct at least 1 work search a week. It is also recommended to keep a written log of your weekly activity as the DLI may check in from time to time. In addition to the job search, when a job is offered, you must accept the offer as long as it is suitable.
Reasons of Unemployment
People let go from jobs everyday, but in order to qualify for unemployment it must be under certain circumstances.
If your place of employment was downsizing and you were a part of the employees who were cut, you would still meet the unemployment requirement. If you were fired from your job from taking money from the cash register, then that would be considered misconduct and you would be barred from receiving unemployment benefits. If you were discharged from your job for not being able to perform the duties that the job entails, you would not necessarily be ineligible for receiving unemployment benefits. Ultimately, the Department of Labor will determine whether you are eligible or ineligible for unemployment benefits.
Quitting your job is a bit more complicated, but in normal circumstances, quitting your job you will keep you from unemployment benefits. There are some exceptions, however. The following situations may be determined as good cause:
- If you quit your job due to health reasons and your employer was not able to accommodate your restrictions.
- If your lost your method of transportation and there were no other options in order to make it to your place of employment.
- If your spouse was relocated and it was not financially feasible too keep two places of residence.
How much unemployment can you expect in Pennsylvania
The amount of unemployment that you will receive is around 50% of your average weekly pay. These benefits, however, are maxed out at $573 per week. In addition, unemployment benefits are available for up to 26 weeks in Pennsylvania.
What happens if you are denied unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania?
After applying for unemployment benefits, the best outcome could be getting a favorable notice of determination and your potential benefit amount and duration of benefits. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. If your application for unemployment is denied, then you have 15 days to appeal.
The appeals process
To appeal a denial, you must send a letter to the DLI via mail or email to the address listed on the notice of denial. Once the DLI receives your appeal, then they will schedule an administrative hearing before a hearing referee. The referee will weigh the evidence brought by you and your employer in order to issue a decision. If you still don’t agree after receiving the decision, then you can appeal to the Board of Review by the date noted on the Referee’s decision. If you still don’t agree with the Board of Review decision, then you can take your appeal a step further to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania within 30 days.
In the process of appealing, it is still very important to be filing a biweekly claim for your benefits. If you do end up winning your appeal, you will only be credited for the weeks that you claimed.
If you feel that your unemployment rights have been violated, it is important to contact an experienced attorney that can fight for your rights. The attorneys at Swartz Swindler LLC have a proven track record of helping those who have had issues with obtaining unemployment benefits. Contact us today by filling out the contact form.