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With unemployment rates at all time record levels, unemployed workers are taking more than usual to find a new job. This can be extremely frustrating and stressful, especially as your state insurance benefits are close to running out. So, it is no surprise that one of the most frequent questions we get asked is, how many weeks of unemployment do I get in Pennsylvania? A popular variation on this question is, how many tiers of unemployment are ther in Pennsylvania?
If you are not sure what is meant by “ties”, you need a little background in a federal unemployment program called Emergency Unemployment Compensation.This unemployment compensation program is a safety net for Pennsylvania unemployed workers who exhaust their 26 weeks of state unemployment insurance and still are searching for suitable employment.
This program is divided into four tiers, each with a set number of unemployment benefit weeks. tier 1 has 20 weeks; tier 2 has 14 weeks, tier 3 has 13 weeks and tier 4 has six weeks. The number of tiers a state is eligible for depends on its seasonally adjusted unemployment rate. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of a state is simply its three-month average unemployment rate.
Therefore, it is more accurate to ask, how many tiers does Pennsylvania have NOW?
This is how the program works. All states qualify for tiers 1 and 2, regardless of their unemployment rate. If your state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is above 6.5 percent, you qualify for tier 3, and if your state’s unemployment rate is above 8.5 percent, it qualifies for tier 4 also.
Pennsylvania’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has just fallen below 8.5 percent, so its tier 4 benefits system is phasing out. This means workers who exhaust their tier 3 benefit weeks will not be able to apply for tier 4 benefits. The Pennsylvania Unemployment Insurance Agency will send them information on how they can apply for other unemployment compensation programs, such as the Extended Benefits program.
However, if you qualified for tier 4 benefits before April, 2, 2011, you will continue to receive your tier 4 weeks until they run out.
The Extended Benefits program we mentioned above, does work as a de facto tier 5, which most states are eligible for. The Extended Benefits program provides 13 or 20 weeks of unemployment benefits to workers who exhaust their state UI benefits and EUC benefits.
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