How Long Do I have to Work to Qualify for Unemployment in Pennsylvania?

To receive Pennsylvania unemployment, workers must earn a certain amount during the base period.

Unemployed workers in Pennsylvania can collect benefits if they meet the program qualifications. The state provides compensation to assist workers with their expenses while they search for new employment. To qualify for benefits, claimants must meet conditions regarding the amount of their earned income, the length of time they have worked and the circumstances of their job loss.


Amount of Time Worked

Pennsylvania employees must accrue at least 16 benefit weeks to receive unemployment compensation. Credit weeks are seven-day periods when workers receive at least $50 in earned income. These credit weeks do not have to be consecutive, but they must all occur within the state-designated base year. The base year refers to the first four of the previous five calendar quarters before an employee submits the initial benefits claim.


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Financial Determination of Benefits

After a worker files an initial claim, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry determines how much compensation an employee can receive. The state bases the benefit on the amount of wages earned during the base year. Employees who have accrued at least 18 credit weeks are eligible for a higher benefit amount than those with 16 credit weeks.


Reasons for Job Loss

Regardless of the credit weeks accrued, workers without a valid reason for their job loss will not qualify for benefits. Eligible claimants must have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Employees who are laid off, those who quit for health reasons and those who are terminated for poor performance are usually eligible.


Reapplying for Benefits

Workers who have not earned enough credit weeks to receive benefits may reapply for compensation. The Determination of Benefits explains each worker's weekly benefit rate. To become eligible for compensation, workers who reapply must have earned at least 50 times their weekly benefit rate.