Unfortunately, with the downturn in the economy, there is an increase in the number of people who are filing for jobless benefits. However, you must know a few things before you visit your Pennsylvania Unemployment Office, so you are more ready for the process, the paperwork and the requirements. Filing for your jobless benefits is often very confusing and difficult. It appears that it simply compounds strain of not having a job, and just draws on your self-esteem and confidence. Despite this, before you start your paperwork to file for laid-off benefits at your PA unemployment office, you can effortlessly register on their website and attempt to find a new job at the two websites that they provide employment information.
Determining Your Benefits Amount
Base Year and Benefit Year
The base period is the time period during which wages earned and/or hours/weeks worked are examined to determine a worker’s monetary right to unemployment insurance. Almost all states utilize the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters prior to filing of the claim as their base period.
The benefit year is a 1-year or 52-week period for the period of which a worker may collect benefits based on a previous period of employment. In all states, the starting date of the benefit year depends on when a worker initially filed a “valid claim,” meaning the worker employment requirements and minimal wage.
Extended Base Periods (EBP)
A number of states permit workers who have no wages in the current base period to make use of older wages and employment under definite conditions. These situations usually involve injury or illness.
For instance, a worker who was hurt during the job and who has obtained workers’ compensation benefits may use wages and employment and wages before the date of the worker’s injury to ascertain eligibility. Some state laws may describe these base periods as “alternative” base periods.
In Pennsylvania, EBP is the last 4 completed quarters immediately prior to the date of the injury if the worker was qualified for worker’s current BP (Base period).
Qualifying Wages or Employment
All states need a worker to have earned a definite amount of wages or to have worked for a definite period of time (or both) within the base period to be financially eligible to collect any UI benefits. Most workers are entitled for benefits based on employment and wages in a single state. On the other hand, some workers who work in more than one state will not have adequate employment and wages in any single state to set up monetary eligibility, or would be entitled for a smaller WBA. Workers with wages and employment in more than one state can opt to file a claim combining wages and employment earned in all states where they worked into a claim filed under the law of any of the states they worked.
To make sure you qualify for benefits, check out PA unemployment eligibility section.
The qualifying formula for wages and employment used by Pennsylvania is 16 credit weeks and at least 20% BPW (Base period wage) out of HQ (High quarter).
The minimum wages needed to qualify for UI in Pennsylvania is $800 for high quarter and $1,320 for base period.
Weekly Amount Benefit
After settling on if a worker has adequate wages and/or employment to be eligible for UI benefits, it is important to determine the weekly benefit amount- the sum payable for a week of total unemployment will be. Unemployment insurance is designed to offer partial wage replacement. For this reason, all workers do not obtain the same benefit amount.
Methods of Calculating Weekly Benefits:
High-Quarter Method: This quarter is viewed as the period most nearly reflecting fulltime work for the worker. By dividing this sum by 13- the number of weeks in a calendar quarter-the average weekly wage is computed. Depending on the percentage of the weekly wage in the state intends to substitute, the weekly wage is divided and the weekly benefit is computed.
Method of calculating and formula for Pennsylvania is:
HQ (High Quarter Formula)
1/23 – 1/25 + DA (Dependent’s Allowance)
The minimum weekly benefit amount is $35-$43 and the maximum ranges from $573 – $581.
The minimum wages required for maximum WBA:
- High quarter-$14,898
- Base period- $22,840
Workers who are otherwise entitled for benefits should first serve a waiting period in most of the states. In many states, the waiting period condition for weeks of partial unemployment is the same as for weeks of total unemployment. The waiting period is served in or with respect to a particular benefit year. When a worker, after intervening employment, has an added spell of unemployment that continues beyond the end of the first benefit year, the worker may not have to provide another waiting week if he is financially eligible for benefits in the second year.
Benefits for Partial Unemployment
Frequently, instead of being laid-off, workers may have their hours reduced during an economic recession. Or jobless workers may get short-term work while seeking for a permanent full-time job. These conditions describe partial unemployment.
- Definition of Partial Unemployment – week of less than full-time work if earnings are less than WBA + 2/5 WBA
- Earnings Disregarded in computing weekly benefit for partial unemployment: Greater of $6 or 2/5 WBA
Though wages brought in during the base period is the most important factor in determining the size of the payment a claimant obtains each week, some states’ laws offer a dependent’s allowance above and beyond the basic benefit amount payable. The meaning of dependent, for UI purposes, differs from state to state as does the allowance granted. In general, a dependent must be wholly or mainly assisted mainly or wholly by the worker or living with or acquiring usual assistance by the worker.
All states with dependents’ allowances comprise children under a specified age. In the state of Pennsylvania the maximum number of dependents allowed is 2.
Duration of Benefits
When states calculate a worker’s financial eligibility for benefits, in addition to computing the weekly benefit amount, they determine the period of benefits- how long benefits can be received. The duration is normally measured as a number of weeks of total unemployment. Maximum weeks of benefits differ from 26 to 30 weeks, most frequently 26 weeks.
In state of Pennsylvania, a worker with no less than 18 credit weeks is qualified for 26 weeks; with at least 16 credit weeks. A credit week is the one in which claimant earned at least $50.
Apart from wages earned, PA requires you to meet certain employment criteria in order to receive the benefits.
Primarily, you must have lost job through no fault of your own. Even if you give up job because of low pay or because you have a long commute, you are usually not eligible. If you are preparing to stop, ensure you realize this fact. There are some unusual situations such as unfriendly work environment in which case you may get the unemployment insurance if you are able to confirm it so.
Second criteria is that you should be healthy and able to work. In case you have physical hardship, then you may not be entitled and if you have disability insurance, you should get in touch with your insurance provider to obtain compensation. You are also required to search for work even though you are not getting favorable replies. If you need more details on this, refer to PA unemployment eligibility guide.
Pennsylvania requires no less than 16 weeks of covered employment (employer should have paid unemployment taxes on your part). You may be not qualified for the benefits if you take part in a work stoppage that is decided by the Department to be a strike.
You may be ineligible for benefits if you fail to take part in re-employment services to which you have been referred through the claimant profiling system. The claimant profiling system has been intended help the claimants who may benefit the maximum from reemployment services. If chosen, you must take part in this obligatory program of reemployment services.
If you have met the entire eligibility criterion, then you can get ready with paperwork to file the application. Though you can file by mail or phone, online application is the most accurate method to apply for benefits.
Watch this video to know more about Pennsylvania Unemployment Claims.