Philadelphia Employment Law Lawyers
In these difficult economic times unemployment may be a word that no one wants to hear. However, understanding the way the system works as well as being aware of your rights and responsibilities can allow you to receive the highly valuable benefit of Unemployment Compensation.
If you believe that you or a loved one is eligible for unemployment compensation, here are some questions that you may have:
What is Unemployment Compensation?
Unemployment compensation is a state-funded insurance program, which provides temporary partial income benefits to individuals who have lost their job through no fault of their own.
Who is Eligible for Benefits?
To be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits one must satisfy both general and financial eligibility requirements.
1. General Requirements
- There are three (3) general eligibility requirements one needs to meet in order to be able to receive unemployment compensation benefits. First, the applicant must be unemployed through no fault of his or her own. Secondly, one must be unemployed for at least one week before being able to obtain benefits. Finally, one must be “able and available” for suitable work in order to be able to receive unemployment compensation benefits.
2. Financial Eligibility Requirements
- In order to receive unemployment compensation benefits you must have worked for at least sixteen (16) weeks during the first four of the last five calendar quarters, earning a minimum of $50.00 per week. It does not matter if you worked for more than one employer during that employment period.
How to Apply for Benefits
There are at least four (4) distinct ways in which you can apply for unemployment compensation benefits.
- You can apply by telephone by calling the Unemployment Compensation hotline at 1-888-313-7284 and choose to continue in either English or Spanish.
- You can also apply on the Internet by going to: www.state.pa.us or www.pa.gov.
- You can file a paper application for unemployment compensation benefits and can mail or fax it to your local Career Link office.
- You can apply for benefits in person by simply stopping by your local Career Link office.
What Happens After the UC Hearing?
Within several weeks of the hearing, you will receive a written decision issued by the Referee, which will either grant you or deny your Unemployment Compensation benefits. Either you or your employer can appeal the Referee’s decision to the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review. Detailed appeal instructions are generally enclosed with the Referee’s decision. You must file your appeal within fifteen (15) days from the date when the Referee’s decision was mailed to you.
How to Appeal a Determination of the UC Service Center
In order to appeal a determination of the UC Service Center, you must file a Petition for Appeal within fifteen (15) days from the date it was mailed to you. Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure that the appeal is filed on time.
What Happens Once an Appeal is Filed?
Once an appeal is filed, your case will be assigned to a referee in your County of residence. The Referee will then schedule a date for a hearing where both you and your employer can show up and present your respective testimonies. The Referee will review the case from the beginning and can accept new evidence, including the testimony of witnesses.
Should You Hire a Lawyer to Represent You at the Hearing before an Unemployment Compensation Referee?
Because Unemployment Compensation Hearings are legal proceedings that may involve questions of administrative, labor, employment, contract and even constitutional law, it is highly advisable that you at least consult with an attorney before going to your Unemployment Compensation hearing. A qualified unemployment compensation attorney can assist you at the hearing by:
- Making a legal argument on your behalf;
- Objecting to inappropriate evidence and testimony;
- Questioning and cross-examining witnesses;
- Securing documents and witnesses that are helpful to your case;
- Helping you identify and organize the facts that are relevant to the Referee’s inquiries;
- Preserving your rights for future proceedings and appeals;
- Obtaining evidence and admissions for a possible employment discrimination or wrongful discharge action.
It is very important to be represented at the hearing because with very few exceptions, the hearing before the Referee will be the only chance you and your employer will have to present evidence.
Frequently Asked Questions About Unemployment Compensation
- Are unemployment benefits taxable?
Yes, all unemployment benefits are considered “gross income” for federal tax purposes.
- Could I get partial benefits?
Yes. You may be eligible for partial benefits if you fall under at least one of the following circumstances: 1) your regular hours of work have been reduced because of lack of available work, 2) you are separated from your job and have obtained other employment with fewer hours of work and/or 3) you are separated from one job, but continue to have part-time employment with another employer.
- What is partial benefit credit?
You can earn up to 40% of your weekly benefit rate without reducing your amount of benefits for the week. The amount that you are earning is called your partial benefit credit. This means that if your weekly benefit rate equals $100, you may earn up to $40 in part-time employment without it compromising your benefits. Any earnings in excess of 40% your benefits will reduce your weekly benefit amount.
- Am I entitled to Unemployment Compensation benefits if I am or was self-employed?
Generally, one is not entitled to Unemployment Compensation for any week that he/she was engaged in self-employment.
- Can I apply for and/or receive Social Security Disability benefits while receiving and/or applying for Unemployment Compensation benefits?
No. In order to be eligible for Unemployment Compensation benefits you must be in the labor mark, or “be able to available” for suitable work. However, when you apply for Social Security Disability and/or Supplemental Social Security Income benefits, you certify that you are unable to perform even the most sedentary job. Thus, Social Security Disability benefits and Unemployment Compensation benefits are mutually exclusive.
- Can I receive benefits while being incarcerated following a conviction?
No. One is not eligible for benefits while incarcerated following a conviction.
- Can I refuse to accept a reasonable job offer while receiving Unemployment Compensation benefits?
Generally, no. You must accept reasonable offers of suitable employment. Failure to accept such offers will disqualify you from receiving benefits. An offer of employment is considered suitable if it is comparable with the person’s education, experience, training and prior financial earnings. Thus, a skilled bricklayer is not required to accept a job as a laborer. The job does not become suitable simply because the person is capable of performing the job duties.
- Can I receive benefits if I gave notice of resignation but was terminated before the effective date of my resignation?
Yes, you are entitled to benefits up until the effective date of your resignation. To remain eligible for benefits after the effective date, you must prove that you had a compelling and necessary reason for quitting or had revoked your resignation prior to its effective date.
- I am on Workers’ Compensation; can I still receive unemployment compensation benefits?
Receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits does not technically disqualify you from receiving Unemployment Compensation benefits. However, your Unemployment Compensation benefits will be credited against your Workers’ Compensation benefits. This means that your Workers’ Compensation benefit amount will be reduced.
- Do I have to notify Unemployment and tell them that I receive Workers’ Compensation benefits?
Yes, you must notify Unemployment and tell them that you are receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits. The law requires this.
- Can I get assistance with job training, resume preparation and searching for other employment opportunities while I receive Unemployment Compensation benefits?
Yes. Your local CareerLink office can assist you with receiving training, preparing your resume, registering for Civil Service exams as well as applying to other jobs. You can find out where your local CareerLink office is located in the phone directory or by visiting: http://www.cwds.state.pa.us
Contact the Experienced Philadelphia Unemployment Compensation Attorneys at Galfand Berger
If you or a loved one believes that you have a claim for unemployment compensation, we are happy to answer your questions and have one of our Philadelphia employment lawyers review your case for free. Please call us at 1-800-222-USWA (8792) or complete our short contact form and a member of our firm will contact you.
With offices in Philadelphia, Lancaster, Bethlehem and Reading, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. And, remember, there is no fee unless we recover for you.