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  • Learn how you can successfuly apply for unemployment compensation in Pennsylvania.

    This guide will help you understand the steps you must take to file for unemployment in Pennsylvania. Although it is not rocket science, filing an unemployment can be confusing and frustrating if you do not know how the system works. This series of articles will detail how the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry processes unemployment applications and what you need to do to get your unemployment compensation checks as soon as possible.

    1. Apply straight away.

    Expect your benefits application to take up to three weeks to process from the date you file your first claim. The longer you take to file your claim the longer you will have to wait for your first check to arrive. You cannot back-date your application or claim for previous weeks,

    The Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry applies a waiting week on all unemployed workers. This term is unfortunate because it can give the impression you have to wait a week before applying. This is not the case. The waiting week is the first week of your benefit year you are eligible for benefits. You will not receive any compensation for this week, but you will need to file for it to begin receiving payments.

    2. Check if you meet the minimum requirements for Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Compensation Program.

    Eligibility requirements include:

    a) You must have lost your job through no fault of your own. If you are fired for stealing, not fulfilling your job description or some other misdemeanor, you may not qualify for unemployment benefits. However, you should still try to apply for unemployment benefits if you can explain why your employer sacked you, even if it is ultimately your fault because the Labor and Industry Department’s guidelines my differ from that of your employer. For example, your boss can sack you for repeatedly getting to work late if you are given adequate warning. However, if the reason for arriving late was justified, such as a sick child or lack of transport, you may still be eligible for benefits.

    b) You must be willing and able to work full-time. If you are sick or permanently disabled, you do not qualify for unemployment. You may qualify for Social Security programs though.

    c) You must meet the Pennsylvania State minimum income requirements in your base year. This includes having a minimum of 16 weeks where you earned $50 or more and a minimum income during your base year period of $1,320 dollars. However, these minimums can change so you should always check with the Labor and Industry Department for current financial eligibility requirements.

    For a full review of Pennsylvania’s requirements for unemployment benefits read our next article in our PA Unemployment Guide To Filing An Unemployment Compensation Claim series.

    Do you qualify for a unemployment benefits? This will depend on two factors: the circumstances that caused you to lose your job –your benefits eligibility– and your wages and period of employment since your last unemployment benefits claim –your financial eligibility.

    For a discussion on benefits eligibility and the reasons for leaving a job that could disqualify you from receiving benefits read our article I Was Sacked From My Job; Do I Qualify For UC?

    So, how do you know if you meet the Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor financial eligibility? As soon as you apply for unemployment benefits you will be sent a notice of Financial Determination, also known as Form UC-44F. This form requires you provide a list of your previous employers and the wages you were paid for each quarter in your base year. Your base year is the first four quarters from your applications for benefit date.

    For example, if you claim for unemployment in June, May or April, your base year goes from the previous December to January period. If on the other hand, you apply in December, November or October you base year goes from the previous June to July. Quarters are divided as follows: 1st quarter January, February and March, 2nd quarter April, May and June, 3rd quarter July, August and September and the 4th quarter October, November and December.

    This form is used to determine your financial eligibility and the amount on your benefits paycheck. If the PA Unemployment Office decides you are eligible, the amount you receive in your check will be based on your highest quarterly wages, your total base-year wages and the number of credit weeks claimed in your base years. If, on the other hand, you are deemed ineligible for unemployment compensation you will be informed by the PA Unemployment Office with an explanation of why you do not qualify.

    If you the PA Unemployment Office decide you are not eligible, you can still file an appeal. This is how you do it.

    Your first step must be to check the information the PA Unemployment Office have is accurate. Check the determination you are sent includes all your previous employers and the wages amounts are accurate.

    If you still feel you have grounds for an appeal, you have 15 days to file your appeal with the Department of Labor and Industry. Click here to download appeal form UC-46B.

    While you are waiting for a response to your appeal you should continue to file for unemployment every week you are unemployed, so you can claim those weeks if your appeal is accepted.

    Click here for more information on how to appeal the decision of the PA Unemployment Office board.

    Many of our readers realize the reason for leaving their job will affect their eligibility for unemployment compensation. Our previous article, discussed some of the most “popular” reasons for leaving a job and how they would affect your chances of receiving unemployment compensation by the Pennsylvania Unemployment Office. Below are two of the many questions and comments we have received on this subject.

    I don’t just want to exist anymore working in a job that does not care about me.I was working at XXXXX foods inc as a fork lift operator 2yrs. I went to work one day and was forced to resign. Anonymous.

    I am requesting some help. I am being verbally abused by my supervisor at work. I do a good job and am a good employee. She stated if I do not like it to quit. I can not quit I need the job. If I quit I can not get unemployed. She screams and yells in front of other employees and the owner of the practice lets her get away with it. When I come home in the evenings I am an emotional wreck. Yesterday it was so bad I could not go into work today. She is always threatening to fire me for little things that have no relevance. Please tell me what our my options? I have other employees that have witnessed this. Please assist. Thank-you. Signed, Bebe.

    These comments are typical to some of the problems many workers have to deal with. What should you do if you are unhappy with your job, you are pressured to resign or feel you have been mistreated?

    Of course, every circumstance is different and we would always recommend you got counsel from a lawyer with experience in the subject who can assess your specific situation.

    However, you should never allow an employer to pressure you into resigning. If you are having problems with fellow employees or managers deal with the issues by talking to your employer. If you have witnesses, use their statements to back your complaint. If you leave your job out of your own choice you may not qualify for unemployment compensation. Do not allow an employer to pressure you into resigning. By doing so you may forfeit severance pay and other benefits available to workers who have been laid off out of no fault of their own.

    Other reasons for leaving a job that may disqualify you from receiving unemployment benefits are mentioned below. Click on them for more details provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

    Rule Violation
    Attitude Toward Employer or Disruptive Influence
    Damage to Equipment or Property
    Unsatisfactory Work Performance
    Drug and Alcohol Testing
    Self-Employment During the Base Year
    Self-Employment While Claiming Benefits
    Self-Employment/Sideline Business
    Corporate Officers
    Refusal of Suitable Work
    Incarcerated Employees
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