PA Unemployment During Coronavirus: Everything You Need To Know

·3 min read

HARRISBURG, PA — The economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis continues to reverberate through Pennsylvania and the nation, as businesses forced to closed due to the public health emergency have laid off thousands of employees.

Since the crisis began unfolding in mid-March, nearly one million Pennsylvanians have filed for unemployment benefits. Late last month, the federal government passed a historic stimulus package aimed at subduing the impacts of the economic blow that could cripple various sectors.

Some of the money in that bill will be used to bolster unemployment programs offered by the states, including extending and enhancing payments. RELATED: Coronavirus Economic Stimulus Payments: What You Need To Do In PA

Here's what you need to know about unemployment in Pennsylvania during the coronavirus crisis:

Am I eligible to file for unemployment?

If you've been laid off because your employer temporarily closes or goes out of business because of coronavirus you can apply for unemployment benefits. You may be eligible if your employer reduces your hours because of the COVID-19 outbreak, or you have been told not to work because your employer feels you might get or spread the virus. MORE.

How do I file?

Online is the fastest and easiest way to get started. You can find call center hours and other vital info at www.uc.pa.gov. Specific benefit requirements can be found at the self-service guide, or use UC LiveChat.

Are all the same eligibility requirements in place during coronavirus?

During the crisis, Pennsylvania has waived some of its usual requirements. For example, those who are eligible for unemployment will be paid for the waiting week. Additionally, workers do not have to search or register for work while receiving payments.

How long does it take to get my money?

Due to a tremendous influx of claims over the past three weeks, the system is overloaded, state officials said. It may take weeks — not days — to receive a response with the information needed to process your payment, explained Susan Dickinson, Director of the Office of Unemployment Compensation Benefits Policy.

An "unprecedented" one million claims have been filed since March 15, Dickinson noted. "Because of the high volume, it is taking us longer than usual to get your information to you after you open a claim. What normally takes five to seven days is taking two three weeks," she said.

Residents are asked to be patient. Do not file multiple claims, as that will further delay the process. "If you have submitted a claim and have not heard from us yet, please do not submit again," Dickinson said.

How much will I get?

Pennsylvania's benefit rate chart can be found here. The amount of qualifying wages needed is determined by the amount of wages in the High Quarter. "For instance, if your High Quarter was $1,688, you must have at least $2,718 total qualifying wages in the base year," the Pennsylvania Unemployment website explains.

Additionally, the federal coronavirus stimulus packaged signed on March 27 includes broad expansions to the state's unemployment compensation program.

"Benefits for individuals exhausting their unemployment benefits will be extended an additional 13 weeks. In addition, many types of workers are typically not eligible for unemployment compensation may receive benefits, including the self-employed and gig workers," said Jahmai Sharp, deputy communications director of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry.

However, specifics on the distribution method and timing for that money is not yet available. "Please check our website for more information in the coming days," Sharp said.

How long will I qualify for payments?

Pennsylvania provides 26 weeks of unemployment. The federal funds will extend this duration by 13 weeks.

How frequent are payments made?

Benefits are paid every other week. The biweekly payment is usually made within four days after the biweekly claim is filed, but it may take up to ten days to receive payment.

How are payments sent?

Benefits are paid by debit card or direct deposit.

More information on unemployment in Pennsylvania can be found here.

>>>Full coverage of coronavirus in Pennsylvania

This article originally appeared on the Newtown Patch