Eligibility for Unemployment Insurance in Pennsylvania

Eligibility for unemployment in Pennsylvania is determined by several factors. PA unemployment insurance eligibility requirements are different for each applicant, can only be established after completing the unemployment benefits application process and cannot be predetermined. Unemployment insurance is known as “UC” (unemployment compensation) in Pennsylvania and can also be referred to as “EDD” (Employment Development Department) aid. Determinations about your unemployment insurance eligibility in Pennsylvania can take between 4 to 6 weeks after filing your initial claim. The qualifications for unemployment in Pennsylvania require you to continue to make biweekly unemployment claims for as long as it takes UC service center representatives to validate your work separation circumstances. Read the sections below for more information on the eligibility requirements for unemployment insurance.

Who qualifies for unemployment in Pennsylvania?

If you are wondering, “What are the requirements to get unemployment in Pennsylvania?” the first step you will need to take is to establish what is called your base year. Eligibility for EDD in Pennsylvania mandates that a base year be evaluated as the first four of the last five calendar quarters. A calendar quarter is a three-month block of time in which your wages will be measured in order to determine your unemployment benefits eligibility. The calendar quarters are: January to March, April to June, July to September and October to December of any given year. For purposes of evaluating eligibility for unemployment in Pennsylvania, count backwards five quarters from the date of your initial UC filing. For example, if you file your unemployment application on May 1st of 2018, your established base year will begin in January of 2017 and ends in December of that same year.

Pennsylvania unemployment insurance eligibility works on a model measuring valid credit weeks. A credit week is any week within your established base year that you earned a minimum of $116.00. You must have eighteen qualifying credit weeks in your established base year in order to meet eligibility requirements for unemployment in Pennsylvania. Remember that unemployment insurance eligibility in Pennsylvania is contingent on both financial eligibility and the meeting of all other UC eligibility requirements, including a valid separation from your former job. It may be that you meet qualifications for unemployment financially, but not in another category, or vice versa.

Who does not qualify for unemployment in Pennsylvania?

Eligibility for unemployment is not afforded to certain residents of Pennsylvania. If you are wondering how to qualify for unemployment in Pennsylvania, bear in mind that any of the following situations can be utilized to deny or reduce your eligibility for benefits:

  • Being incarcerated or jailed – Pennsylvania does not extend eligibility for unemployment to individuals who are incarcerated for any period of an eligibility week.
  • Being out of the country – As eligibility for EDD is considered and managed on a state-by-state basis, you cannot affirm or maintain eligibility if you are outside your local state’s work market.
  • Quitting a job voluntarily or being discharged for misconduct – One of the most important qualifications for unemployment in any state is that you have been separated from work “through no fault of your own.”
  • Being unable or unavailable for work – Eligibility for unemployment insurance mandates that all petitioners remain able and willing to work if and when work is offered.
  • Not actively seeking work – Unemployment insurance eligibility in Pennsylvania is now contingent on registering with a work search service available through the Pennsylvania CareerLink and to document the outcomes of these weekly work search efforts. Adherence to this standard is considered a weekly test of continued eligibility.
  • Being a corporate officer – Persons holding primary or influential stake in their own businesses will not be considered eligible for unemployment insurance benefits as Pennsylvania law views persons with an overabundance of stock or corporate control in any business to be “self-employed.”
  • Receiving severance pay – Weekly benefits can be reduced for the weeks following the issuance of severance pay from a former employer. The number of weeks severance pay can alter or halt unemployment benefits depends on the size of the severance check.
  • Striking – Pennsylvania law often classifies employment strikes as voluntary leaving of a job. Eligibility for unemployment can be denied due to willful participation in a strike.
  • Self-Employment – Pennsylvania UC law does not recognize self-employment in its estimations of base year income.
  • Receiving Social Security or Pensions – Eligibility for EDD benefits in Pennsylvania can be drastically reduced by the tricky areas of Social Security or pensions. Typically, if an unemployment petitioner paid in to any part of his or her pension, fifty percent of the pension would be taken from the weekly unemployment insurance amount. The full 100 percent will be deducted if the pension was entirely employer-funded.

Download our comprehensive guide for more details on unemployment insurance eligibility.

What are the steps to determining eligibility for unemployment in Pennsylvania?

In any determination of eligibility for unemployment in Pennsylvania, both the petitioner and his or her former employer will be meticulously interviewed. This unemployment eligibility interview may occur over a phone call with a UC service representative or via a specialized form that can be completed online. Either way, it is imperative to be wholly honest in every response that you give to these eligibility questions. You will be asked to provide several pieces of documentation as to your work history and overall financial picture for the past eighteen months prior to the date of your unemployment claim. Once you have filed, you will receive what is called a notice of financial determination in the mail detailing your eligibility for benefits, along with the Pennsylvania UC claim confirmation letter and a copy of the unemployment claimant’s handbook. Eligibility for unemployment in Pennsylvania does include an appeals process for those who wish to challenge any aspect of an official determination letter.

How can I check my unemployment insurance eligibility status in Pennsylvania?

You can check your qualifications for unemployment status at any time online or via a phone call to a local Pennsylvania UC service center. Access to information about your eligibility for unemployment is granted via your Social Security number and a unique PIN number that will be issued exclusively to you at the completion of your unemployment application. There is no fee or penalty associated with attaining eligibility for unemployment or checking the status of your claim.

For answers to all of your questions regarding unemployment insurance eligibility, download our comprehensive guide.