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  • In our previous article we discussed the maximum number of weeks you could receive in regular PA-state funded benefits and the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. In PA that amounts to a maximum 79 weeks This is not the end of the unemployment compensation system in PA. Due to the increase in the unemployment rate in the last two years, the state of Pennsylvania qualifies for the Extended Benefits program, EB.

    The Program

    The EB is a federal and state program, usually supported on a 50/50 basis. It provides long-term unemployed workers with a maximum of 13 weeks of unemployment benefits to aid them find work. If you received 26 weeks of regular state unemployment benefits you will receive the maximum 13 weeks. However if you only qualified for 16 weeks of regular UC, then you can apply for a maximum OF 8 weeks.

    What triggers the EB program?

    The EB program is triggered in a state after the third week its unemployment rate is above a predetermined level, for instance, 8.5 percent. Unemployed workers must have run out of regular state unemployment compensation and EUC, Emergency Unemployment Compensation.

    What triggers-off the EB program?

    Similarly, once a state’s unemployment rate declines below a predetermined level the EB program is cancelled. Once an EB period ends, a new one can’t start until after 14 weeks have gone by.

    What requirements must I meet to qualify for the EB program?

    – You must be partially or completely unemployed.

    – Your total income during the base year of your most recent claim must be at least one and a half times the income you earned in your highest earning quarter. For instance, if you earned $5,000 during your high-earning quarter, you must have earned at least $7,500 during the entire base period.

    – You must have exhausted EUC and regular state-provided benefits.

    – You must be both able and willing to work. This is an area where the EB program has more stringent requirements. An unemployed worker on Extended Benefits must provide evidence of at least two work search activities per week on different days. Proof involves providing information on the company you visited, who you spoke to and a report of the results of the interview.

    – You must not turn down suitable job offered through the PA CareerLink program. A suitable job is described as one you are qualified and fit to do, and one where you at least receive the weekly benefits for the state or federal programs.

    This is a question we get asked often from our readers, and for good reason. The unemployment insurance system is far from straightforward. In fact, it is not one system but at least three systems (but sometimes only two) which vary depending on the state you live in. This article will not only focus on answering “How many weeks of unemployment can I get in PA in 2011?” but also tackle how many weeks you can get from each unemployment program.

    Regular State-Funded Unemployment Compensation

    The Pennsylvania regular unemployment compensation, UC, program provides unemployed workers with a maximum of 26 weeks. This is the most you will receive within any one year from filing your initial unemployment claim. So, if you file for unemployment the 1st of June and you have already used your 26 weeks you will not have any more unemployment weeks for 2011. This year period is not calendar year of January to December. It starts whenever you claim for unemployment. To qualify again for PA state-funded unemployment after you have used up your maximum number of UC weeks, you would need to start working for a registered employer, meet the financial and legal requirements of the PA Unemployment Office and reapply.

    Fortunately for long term unemployed workers, the PA state-funded UC program is not the only unemployment compensation program available.

    EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation)

    This program was extended in December 2010 and will continue up to December 24, 2011. The program has different formats depending on the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate. States with an unemployment rate higher than 6 and 8.5 percent qualify for tiers 3 and tiers 3 and 4 respectively. As long as Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate remains above 8.5 percent it will qualify for the maximum 53 weeks of benefit. However, this does not mean you will receive the total 53 weeks. How many weeks you get in PA in 2011 from the EUC also depends on the number of weeks you qualified for under the state-funded regular UC program.

    Unemployed workers who qualified for the 26 weeks of UC can receive the maximum 53 weeks. However, unemployed workers who only received 16 weeks of regular UC, will receive a maximum of 12.8 weeks in tier 1, 8,6 weeks in tier 2, 8 weeks in tier 3 and 3.8 weeks in tier 4, which amounts to a maximum of 34 weeks.

    How many weeks of unemployment you get in PA for 2011 will depend on your income and UC contributions during the year before you file your claim. The maximum unemployment weeks between regular UC and EUC is 79 weeks, plus the EB, Extended Benefits, program which we will discuss in our next article.

    If you are denied unemployment benefits, you can still appeal for a UC Referee to review your claim.

    Your claim for unemployment benefits is dependent on several factors that comprise the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Eligibility Criteria. Failing to meet any of these requirements will cause your unemployment compensation benefits to be denied.

    This criteria includes:

    – Working for at least 16 weeks during your base year (the first 12 months of the last 15 months) and earning a minimum of $50 in each of those weeks.

    – Earning a minimum income of $1,320 during your base year and at least $800 in any one quarter of that year. For example, to receive the maximum $565 weekly benefits for 26 weeks you must have earned $20,700 or more during your base year and $12,940 or more in your highest earning quarter.

    – Losing your job out of no fault of your own. A difference of opinion between the employer and employee over the reason why their contract was terminated is probably the most common reason for appeal.

    – Be able and willing to work full-time.

    However, if your claim has been denied and you feel you qualify there is a benefit appeal process you can use to request a review of your claim.


    You have 15 days to appeal against a denial of benefits. The 15 days start from the mailing date of your notice of denial. If the last day falls on a holiday or weekend, the final date is extended to the next working day.

    STEP 1

    Download a Petition for Appeal or Pennsylvania UC 468 Form.

    Complete section 1 of the form. You will need to provide your full name, address, telephone number, the date of the determination you are appealing against, your social security number and the work address and telephone number of the employer involved in your appeal.

    Send the fully completed form to the address specified in the UC Service Center determination you were sent to notify the denial of benefits.

    Once your appeal is flied the Unemployment Compensation Referee assigned to your case will call a hearing where you, your employer and any witnesses you call on will give testimony.

    If you were denied benefits because you quit work (as opposed to being fired or laid-off) you will have to provide evidence of a compelling reason to leave your job. If your employer fired you, the burden of proof is on him or her to prove you were dismissed for willful misconduct or negligence.

    After the hearing the referee will come to a decision and inform you and your employer by mail.


    If you are involved in an appeal, you should continue filing your weekly benefits (online or over the telephone) so you can receive payment for those weeks if your appeal is successful.

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