Unemployment Insurance Benefits in Pennsylvania


Residents can claim unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania if they have been released from employment or are experiencing a reduction in work hours for the qualifying causes. An unemployment benefits claim assists individuals and families in making ends meet while the recipient pursues new employment possibilities. Claiming benefits for unemployment in PA is not an opportunity open to everyone. Some types of workers are not eligible to receive benefits under the program. Employees who freely left their previous jobs or who were released from their former employment for cause are also disqualified. For qualifying workers, federal unemployment benefits are a valuable, limited-term resource that can ease the transition between jobs and provide an important financial safety net. In addition, the employment search tools, guidance and assistance built into the unemployment compensation program can improve the efficiency of a recipient’s job search and reduce the amount of time he or she spends between jobs.

How to Claim Unemployment Benefits in Pennsylvania

To begin claiming benefits for unemployment in Pennsylvania, an applicant must complete an initial Unemployment Compensation (UC) application. Applicants found to be eligible to receive federal unemployment benefits will be given a confirmation, a PIN number for the online benefits system and instructions on when to begin submitting biweekly benefits claims. Typically, the specified date is one to two weeks from the approval of the initial application. Applicants will request benefits in two-week increments but verify each week’s eligibility individually. It is critical that applicants submit their claims in a timely manner, as failure to file claims on time significantly delays benefit payments. Applicants are encouraged to submit PA unemployment benefits claims online, but may also do so by phone or videophone service. Within a few weeks of beginning to receive benefits, recipients will be required to engage in, and certify their participation, in weekly job search activities in order to meet eligibility guidelines for unemployment benefits.

Federal Unemployment Benefits in Pennsylvania

Eligible recipients who claim unemployment benefits can expect their first payment within one month of submitting their initial application. Unemployment insurance benefits in Pennsylvania are paid on a biweekly schedule. Recipients may elect to have their awards deposited directly into the bank account of their choice or to access them via a benefits debit card. Prior unemployment benefits recipients who are renewing their claims will receive their payments by the method they elected to use previously, unless they elect to change it.

The amount an unemployment benefits claim recipient receives each week is referred to as his or her Weekly Benefit Rate and is determined by a complex formula. This formula factors in the gross wages earned by an applicant during the four qualifying quarters of the year (the “base year”) prior to claiming benefits for unemployment in PA, to include the combined total income received from any employers. To learn more about the primary factors that impact the amount of unemployment compensation benefits a beneficiary can receive, you can download our comprehensive guide today.

A recipient’s weekly federal unemployment benefits may further be adjusted by moderating factors, including dependents, support payments, partial income credits or benefit reductions. Recipients claiming unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania with dependent partners or children may be elibible to receive incremental increases to their Weekly Benefit Rate. Child support payments may be withheld from UC benefits. A recipient’s Weekly Benefit Rate may be reduced during any week in which he or she earns income above the amount allowed by his or her partial income benefit credit, including income derived from holiday or vacation pay or the receipt of back wages.

When UC funds are depleted, PA unemployment insurance claims are systematically reduced by a defined percentage. No state or local taxes are levied on federal unemployment benefits, but recipients may elect to have federal taxes deducted from their Weekly Benefit Rates. A recipient’s actual Weekly Benefit Rate will be determined by combining all of the above factors and can change in response to alterations in those factors. 

Recipients may claim unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania until they reach one of two limits: time or funding. Recipients claiming benefits for unemployment may do so for one year from the date of their initial application. However, federal unemployment benefits are capped at an individualized maximum amount per recipient that is calculated using an applicant’s eligible credit weeks and Weekly Benefit Rate. A recipient is no longer eligible to continue claiming benefits for unemployment in PA when he or she reaches either their maximum funding amount or the end of his or her benefits year. In Pennsylvania, an unemployment benefits extension may be available in special circumstances. To learn more about unemployment claims in PA, you can download our comprehensive guide today.

What Kind of Employment Development Services Are Available in Pennsylvania?

If you are currently unemployed and need help finding a job, the state of Pennsylvania offers unemployment benefits to eligible applicants, in order to help them get by while pursuing work. In addition to financial assistance, the Employment Development Division of Pennsylvania also offers training benefits, which allow unemployed individuals to learn new skills and get a higher education so that they can earn a better living. Find out more about these employment services by downloading our guide.

What Education Assistance Is Available in Pennsylvania?

Just as unemployed individuals can benefit from services offered by the state, so too can college students. Pennsylvania students can qualify for financial aid from the government, such as loans and grants, which can help them cover the costs of higher education. Find out how you can get financial assistance for your schooling by downloading our guide.