Who qualifies for unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania?
The first factor required for obtaining eligibility for unemployment benefits concerns how you acquired your unemployment status. Namely, you must have been let go through no fault of your own, and the reason for your layoff must have been because of objective business conditions. For example, if you got fired due to misconduct, or you were criminally charged, you will not meet eligibility for unemployment insurance. Similarly, if you quit your job voluntarily, you are automatically ineligible for benefits. On the other hand, if the company is shutting down, your department is closing, or the project you were working on is ending and you will be left without work as a result, you meet the initial qualifications for unemployment insurance.
In addition to the reason for your unemployment, there are other key requirements for gaining unemployment insurance eligibility, such as your financial status. To meet the financial qualifications for unemployment benefits, you must have earned enough wages during your employment base period. This only includes wages that were earned under covered (insured) employment.
Note: Domestic services performed privately and agricultural labor are exempt from coverage under Pennsylvania laws. Also, self-employed individuals are not eligible for unemployment compensation.
What are the requirements to get unemployment benefits and maintain them in Pennsylvania?
Besides meeting the above qualifications for unemployment benefits, you must also meet certain requirements to remain eligible. The PA Department of Labor and Industry has set certain unemployment insurance eligibility criteria that applicants must comply with in order to keep receiving benefits. First of all, you must be actively looking for work during your unemployment period and present proof to the department about the results of your job search. Additionally, you must also be physically and mentally able to work, and if you are offered a job with reasonable conditions, you must accept it and be able to start work as soon as possible. Oftentimes, the PA Department of Labor and Industry requires certain unemployed individuals to participate in reemployment programs. If you are selected for such a program and fail to participate, this can result in the loss of your unemployment insurance eligibility.
Meeting these requirements is crucial, especially because you must aim to become financially independent again so that you may provide for yourself by working, rather than by relying on government assistance. If you refuse suitable work without a good reason or fail to apply to job openings, you will not be paid any unemployment benefits during this time. Additionally, if you commit a crime at your workplace, or you are criminally charged or incarcerated for any reason, you will lose eligibility for unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania. Another situation where you may lose eligibility for EDD is if you participate in a strike, which is considered a stoppage of work, not unemployment.
Note: Unemployed individuals make the common mistake of applying for unemployment benefits while they are still employed but anticipating unemployment. To be an individual who qualifies for unemployment insurance, you must, in fact, be officially unemployed. If you would like to start receiving benefits as soon as possible, you must apply on the first day of your unemployment.