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  • To receive unemployment benefits, you must first determine if you are financially eligible under PA Unemployment Law.

    The requirements to qualify for unemployment insurance compensation in Pennsylvania are set by Federal and State rules. Because Unemployment Insurance is regulated by federal – state policy the specific requirements and benefits vary widely by state. For instance, the percentage of unemployed workers who receive benefits range from 17 to 57 percent depending on where you live. The amount of standard unemployment benefits you receive also vary widely from state to state. For example the national average number of unemployment benefits people receive is 15 weeks, while in Pennsylvania the average is nearly 26 weeks (25.9), the maximum available.

    There are three main requirements you must meet to qualify for unemployment in Pennsylvania: 1) Past Earnings Requirements, 2) Nonmonetary Eligibility Criteria and Legal Residence Criteria.

    Past Earnings Requirements.

    The general federal guideline is very vague: You “must have previous strong attachment to the labor force”. In practice, each state must determine what level of attachment you must have to qualify. In Pennsylvania you must have received a minimum income in your previous 1-year base period of $1,320, and at least $800 must have been earned in one quarter (three month periods starting from January to March) to receive the minimum weekly benefits package. To receive the maximum $565 weekly benefits you must have earned at least $20,700 in your base period and $12,940 in your highest earning quarter.

    Nonmonetary Criteria

    The federal guideline on this requirement is also vague. To qualify you must be unemployed involuntarily through no fault of your own, and must be able, available for, and actively seeking full-time work.

    Again, each state sets the specific rules. In Pennsylvania the burden of proof is on you if you voluntarily leave your job. This means that if your employer does not sack you for lack of work and you leave of your own initiative you must have a good excuse. If you are sacked for not fulfilling your job description, arriving late, stealing or some other misdemeanor, you may not qualify unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania.

    The Pennsylvania State guideline on this matter is you must have “good cause” for quitting work. What amounts to good cause? This is determined on a case by case basis. For instance, if your spouse is in the military and is transferred you can claim good cause for quitting your job and moving. If you were being harassed at work and your employer was not willing to solve the situation (and you have evidence of this), you could prove “good cause” for leaving.

    Legal Residence Criteria.

    The only legal residence requirement to receive unemployment insurance compensation is to be a legal residence with a right to work.

    Now you know the general requirements for receiving UI benefits you are ready for your next step: filing your claim. Learn the best way to do this in our next article of our Guide To Filing An Unemployment Compensation Claim series.

    1 Comment

    1. I work & live in the state of Pennsylvania for a company & my weekly hours were cut back from 40 to 32 hours. Now there is a good possibility that I loose my job very soon.

      The question I have if they bring me back as a consultant for 24 hours per week for a project & at the completion of the project they let me go. Can I apply or reapply for unemployment?

      Comment by Daniel Stango — June 5, 2012 @ 2:59 pm

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