If you would like to claim unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania, you must have become unemployed through no fault of your own. Individuals who have been fired from their jobs for reasons such as misconduct, and those who have voluntarily quit, are not eligible to file unemployment benefits claims.
In addition, all eligible unemployed citizens must also meet a list of requirements set by the Department of Labor and Industry in order to apply for unemployment insurance. However, the final decision of eligibility is based on the reason leading to unemployment, and only those who are without work because of objective business conditions (such as a company going out of business or a department or project being shut down) can submit an application.
In Pennsylvania, claiming benefits for unemployment must be done through the Department of Labor and Industry.
How to Claim Unemployment Benefits in Pennsylvania
To discover how to claim unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania, you must first find out whether you are eligible. The Department of Labor and Industry has set certain requirements that all applicants must meet in order to submit an unemployment benefits claim.
The most important criterion that determines further eligibility is the reason why you lost your job. Thus, if you were fired for misconduct, criminal activities or an inability to perform your duties, you cannot claim unemployment benefits.
Similarly, if you quit your job voluntarily, claiming benefits for unemployment is not an option for you. The only workers who are eligible for unemployment benefits claims are those who have been laid off through no fault of their own.
If you would like to apply for unemployment insurance, you must gather the necessary documents and submit an application as soon as you are without work. However, you cannot claim unemployment benefits if you are still employed, even if you are awaiting unemployment.
Overall, you can apply for federal unemployment benefits in the following ways in Pennsylvania:
- Online, by submitting an application via the official PA DLI website
- By phone, by calling the state unemployment benefits toll-free number
- In person, by submitting a paper application to any UC service center
- By videophone service, for individuals who use American Sign Language
To complete the application process, you will need to submit the following:
- Your Social Security Number
- Information about your past employers (names, addresses, starting and ending dates, reasons for leaving)
- Your Employer Information form (if available)
- Recent pay stubs
- Driver’s license number
- Your PIN (if you have one)
How to Keep Receiving Unemployment Benefits in Pennsylvania
Once you submit an unemployment benefits claim in Pennsylvania, you are obliged to maintain your eligibility in order to continue receiving benefits. Namely, you must comply with the basic eligibility requirements and report any job offers, job rejections or changes in income to the DLI.
Failure to do so can result in the termination of your benefits. If you are filing a subsequent claim, you must be unemployed at the end of the benefit year and you must meet all other base-year eligibility requirements.
Note that you must file a claim for every week of unemployment. In Pennsylvania, you have the option to file an unemployment benefits claim for two weeks at once, which is known as a biweekly claim. The department will verify your eligibility for each week, even though you file for two weeks at a time.
In general, the most convenient way to file a biweekly claim is online, via the department’s website. The online system is open Monday through Friday, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. This is called continued eligibility and should not be mistaken for an unemployment benefits extension, which occurs when a special emergency program is activated by the state government in times of high unemployment.
Learn About Federal Unemployment Benefits and Federal Income Taxes in Pennsylvania
If you are claiming benefits for unemployment in PA, you must learn whether you have to pay federal income taxes. In Pennsylvania, unemployment benefits are considered gross income, but as such, they are not taxable by the state or local governments.
However, recipients of benefits may have to pay federal income taxes, which they can do by completing a special online application. The amount withheld from your federal unemployment benefits is estimated at 10 percent of your weekly benefits, i.e. from the amount that is payable before all deductions have been applied.