A record number of Americans have previously lost their jobs or experienced a reduction in their income as a result of the economical turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on Politico, over 10 million workers have been laid off in a two week period alone, suggesting the 15 million jobs lost throughout the peak of the 2007-2009 Great Recession will quickly be surpassed. In response to the crisis, the government has introduced an exceptional package of measures made to help those hit the hardest. Passed into law around the 27 March, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will deliver (amongst other things):

  • Tax rebates of up to $1,200 per taxpayer, along with an additional $500 for every dependent.
  • An expanded Unemployment Insurance benefits package to include an across-the-board, $600 per week supplementary payment 'till the end of July; a waiving from the 7-day waiting period for new applicants; an extra 13 weeks of paid benefits 'till the end of July; a reworking from the UI eligibility criteria to support those affected by COVID-19.
  • Subsidized loans for small businesses affected by COVID-19.
  • Increased financial support to students, schools, and colleges.

As Patch reports, Pennsylvania became one of the hardest-hit states with nearly A million residents claiming Unemployment Benefits Insurance since Mid-March. To those affected, the CARES Act might be a lifeline.

Am I Eligible to Claim Unemployment?

If you're a Pennsylvania resident who's been left out of work as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, you might be eligible to claim Unemployment Insurance benefits. Whereas previously you'd have needed to demonstrate you had been both ready, able and prepared to work, and actively seeking employment, the rules have now been relaxed to ensure that those impacted by COVID-19 aren't penalized.

If your purpose in being out of work relates to any of the below, you may be eligible for UI.

  • You are sick with COVID-19.
  • You are in quarantine or self-isolation after being exposed to COVID-19.
  • You are a caregiver to someone with COVID-19 or to someone who is in quarantine after exposure to COVID-19.
  • Your employer has gone out of business or temporarily closed due to COVID-19.
  • Your employer has reduced your hours due to COVID-19.
  • You cannot work because of school closures and don't have childcare support.
  • You are unable to get to work because public transportation continues to be shut down and you are unable to work at home.
  • You quit your job or were fired because you believed it was unsafe to go to. You must show evidence of attempting to keep your job, and it is recommended that you provide written notice of the concerns to your line manager before taking any action.
  • You are self-employed, a freelancer, or a gig worker whose income continues to be adversely affected by COVID-19.
  • In order to file an effective claim, you must also fulfill the minimum income requirements for UI. What's needed are set at:
  • A minimum of $116 each week for at least 18 weeks during your base period
  • A minimum of $1,688 during the highest-earning quarter in your base period
  • A minimum of $3,391 in total income on your base period
  • Your base period is determined as per the below:
  • For claims produced from April through June 2021, your base period will be set as January 1, 2021, to December 31, 2021.
  • For claims made from July through September 2021, your base period is going to be set as April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2021.
  • For claims made from October through December 2021, your base period is going to be set as July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2021.

How Do I Apply for Unemployment in Pennsylvania?

To file claims for UI, you'll need to supply the following information and documents:

  • Your Ssn.
  • Your Alien Registration Number (if you're not a US citizen).
  • Your Contact Information (mailing address, phone number, and email address)
  • Your employment history within the last 18 months. This should include the name and address of every employer, employer’s telephone number, your occupation with that employer, the first and last working days with that employer, and the reason for leaving the job (this will be to verify you weren't fired).
  • Severance Information, if applicable
  • Military Form DD-214 (if you have completed military service in the past 18 months).
  • Form SF-8 or SF-50 (if you were a federal employee).

Once you've compiled all of the necessary documentation, you should go to file your claim online through Pennsylvania’s Office of Unemployment Compensation.

You can also do it by phone (888-313-7284); however, due to high call traffic, expect long hold times.

Once you've filed the application, you'll need to verify your claim bi-weekly for the duration of your unemployment. This applies whilst you’re waiting on a decision or you appeal a declined application.

Can I Appeal If My Claim is Denied?

If your claim is denied, you'll get a written notice to that effect within A 3 week period. If you wish to appeal the decision, you have 15 days to log an appeal. Details of the appeals process is going to be included in the letter.

How Much Am i going to Get?

Depending on your previous income, you'll receive between $68 and $561 per week. In addition to the base payment, you'll be eligible for an additional $5 per week for any dependent spouse and $3 each week for a dependent child. If you want to calculate your estimated benefits, File Unemployment has a useful tool for just that. Simply complete your income details for the base period, confirm your quantity of dependents, and the calculator will return your projected benefits.

When Am i going to Be Paid?

Your first payment will usually fall in the same week that you simply file your first claim (this is 2 weeks after you file your initial application). Payment will be made by either direct deposit using your bank or credit union or by UIA Bank of America debit card, depending on which option you select.

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