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Unemployment Compensation During COVID-19

April 14, 2020

What is Unemployment Compensation?

Unemployment Compensation is a critical benefit program for individuals who are not working or are unable to find work. This weekly payment allows people to pay rent, feed their families, use public transportation, and pay for life-saving medical care including copays and prescription drugs.

How Do New Laws Impact Unemployment?

The laws around unemployment have changed drastically during the COVID-19 crisis, and it can be confusing to sort out.

The CARES Act, which was signed into law by President Trump on March 27th, establishes Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. The law allows for expanded unemployment benefits and eligibility during the crisis. So what does this mean?

Workers will receive an extra $600 per week on top of the state benefit until July 31st, and eligible recipients will be allowed to receive benefits for a total of 39 weeks in Pennsylvania. Additionally, Pennsylvanians can apply for unemployment right away because Governor Wolf has waived the one-week wait time necessary to apply for unemployment benefits, as well as the work search and work registration requirement until further notice.

Who is Eligible?

You may be eligible for unemployment under the new legislation if:

  • You are self-employed
  • You work part-time
  • Your employer reduces your hours because of COVID-19
  • You are unable to find work due to quarantine
  • You have received a COVID-19 diagnosis, or are caring for a household member who has received one and are unable to work as a result
  • You rely on a school, daycare or another facility to care for a household member so that you can work
  • You are unable to work because your employer is closed during the crisis

In order to apply for unemployment, visit https://www.uc.pa.gov/unemployment-benefits/file. Individuals can also call 1-888-313-7284. However, because of increased demand, we encourage folks to apply online as much as possible.

Documents that answer frequently asked questions around unemployment and COVID-19 can be found here, here, and here.