Applying to Unemployment in Pennsylvania Due to COVID-19

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The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has changed everything, including whether millions of Americans have jobs or not. Unemployment insurance benefits can help you through this crisis, but even at the best of times, finding your way through the system can be overwhelming and frustrating. Here are some quick links and resources to make it easier to get the money you're eligible for.

If you are an employer, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry's Office of Unemployment Compensation resource hub for more information on how employees claiming unemployment affect your business.

How to claim unemployment

Visit uc.pa.gov to get started as soon as you become eligible. Because of the pandemic, this includes W-2 workers and the self-employed, freelancers, gig workers, and 1099-independent contractors, as well as those who qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. You may experience delays applying for unemployment because of volume, but keep at it.

Visit the File an Initial Claim page for guidelines on the documents you need, what to expect as you file your claim, and how to proceed with unemployment benefits going forward. Be sure to refile every two weeks; each week begins on Sunday, and you'll recertify your unemployment status for each week that you seek benefits or look for work. Click here to begin filing in either English or Spanish.

If you need to speak to someone or apply over the phone, the automated PA Teleclaims system is available at (888) 255-4728, from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, and 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday. Click here if you need TTY services.

In addition to unemployment payments from the state, the federal government will distribute $600 alongside each disbursal through July 25, 2020. Benefits will last for 26 weeks, if recertified every week during that period. An additional 13 weeks of benefits are available through the federal CARES Act, but be sure to apply for the extension, as it's not automatic. Visit the state's CARES Act FAQ for helpful flowcharts and links.

Who is eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

Those who don't qualify for regular unemployment benefits can still get PUA if they are diagnosed with, experiencing symptoms of, or affected directly by COVID-19, including:

  • A member of the individual's household has been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • The individual is providing care for a family member or member of the household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • A child or other person in the household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 emergency, and the school or care is required for the individual to work
  • The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a COVID-19 quarantine or because a healthcare professional has advised him or her to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns
  • The individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of COVID-19
  • The individual has become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19
  • The individual has quit his/her job or was laid off as a direct result of COVID-19
  • The individual's place of employment is closed as a direct result of COVID-19

Pennsylvanians can get help with PUA at the state's resource hub, at the PUA FAQ page, or by downloading the PUA Portal for Claimants.