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Unemployment Compensation

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.

What is Unemployment Compensation?

Unemployment compensation is a state 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 for benefits must be unemployed through no fault of his or her own.Second, is that 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 get unemployment compensation benefits.
  2.  Financial Eligibility Requirements
    • In order to receive unemployment compensation benefits you must have worked for at least 16 weeks during the first four of the last five calendar quarters, earning at least $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 through which you can apply for unemployment compensation benefits.

First, you can apply by telephone by calling the Unemployment Compensation hotline at 1-888-313-7284 and choosing to continue either English or Spanish.

You can also apply on the Internet by going to www.state.pa.us or www.pa.gov.

A paper application for unemployment compensation benefits can either be mailed or faxed to your local Career Link office.

Lastly, you can apply for benefits in person by simply stopping by your local Career Link office.

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 the 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.

What Happens After the UC Hearing?

Within several weeks of the hearing, you receive a written decision issued by the Referee, which either grants or denies your Unemployment Compensation benefits.   Both you and 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.

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 the 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.  Please call the Philadelphia employment law firm of Galfand Berger at 1-800-222-USWA (8792) to speak with one of our experienced Philadelphia employment law lawyers.

Frequently Asked Questions About Unemployment Compensation

  1. Are unemployment benefits taxable?
    • Yes. All unemployment benefits are considered gross income for federal tax purposes.
  2. 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 are reduced because of lack of work;
      2. you are separated from your job and have obtained other employment with fewer hours of work;
      3. you were separated from one job, but continue to have part-time employment with another employer.
  3. What is partial benefit credit?
    • You may earn up to 40 percent of your weekly benefit rate without reducing your benefits for the week. The amount you earn is called partial benefit credit. This means that if your weekly benefit rate is $100, you can earn up to $40 in part-time employment without it affecting your benefits. Any earnings in excess of 40% your benefits will reduce your weekly benefit.
  4. Am I entitled to unemployment compensation benefits if I am or was self-employed?
    • In general one is not entitled to unemployment compensation benefits for any week during which he or she was or is engaged in self-employment. It makes no difference whether your own business is active or profitable.
  5. 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 market, or “be able and available” for suitable work. However, when you apply for Social Security Disability and/or Supplemental Security Income benefits you certify that you are unable to perform even most sedentary job in the national economy. Thus, Social Security Disability and Unemployment Compensation benefits are mutually exclusive.
  6. Can I receive benefits while being incarcerated following a conviction?
    • One is not eligible for benefits while incarcerated following a conviction
  7. Can I refuse to accept a reasonable job offer while getting unemployment compensation benefits?
    • In general, you must accept reasonable offers of suitable employment. Failure to accept such offers is a disqualifier for benefits. An offer of employment is considered suitable if it is comparable with the person’s education, experience, training and prior earnings. Thus, a skilled bricklayer and carpenter is not required to accept a job as a laborer. The job does not become suitable simply because the person is capable of doing the job.
  8. Can I receive benefits if I gave notice of resignation but was terminated before the effective date of the resignation?
    • Yes. You are entitled to benefits up until the effective date of your resignation. To be eligible for benefits after the effective date you must prove either that you had a compelling and necessitous reason for quitting or had revoked your resignation prior to its effective date.
  9. I am on Workers’ Comp, can I receive Unemployment Compensation benefits?
    • Technically receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits does not disqualify you from receiving Unemployment Compensation. However, your Unemployment Compensation benefits will be credited against your Workers’ Compensation benefits. This means that your Workers’ Compensation benefit will be reduced.
  10. Do I have to notify Unemployment about my Workers’ Compensation benefits?
    • Yes. The law requires that you notify Unemployment if you are eligible or begin receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits.
  11. Can I get assistance with job training, resume preparation and search for other employment while receiving Unemployment Compensation benefits?
    • Yes. Your local CareerLink office can assist you with getting training, preparing your resume, registering for Civil Service exams and applying for other jobs. The location of your nearest CareerLink office can be found in the phone directory or on the internet at: www.cwds.state.pa.us
  12. How can I obtain additional information regarding Unemployment Compensation benefits?
    • By calling 1-800-222-8792  for a free consultation with one of Galfand Berger, LLP’s attorneys. We have offices in Philadelphia, Reading, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
    • By visiting your local Career Link office
    • By visiting the Pennsylvania Department of Labor on web at: www.dli.state.pa.us

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Attorney Advertising Materials. Wayne A. Hamilton is responsible for the content of this website. This website is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

We serve clients in Philadelphia, Allentown, Harrisburg, Reading, throughout Pennsylvania and in New Jersey. Our offices are located in Philadelphia, Reading, and Bethlehem, Pa.

We work to protect the rights of clients who have been injured as a result of car accidents, defective products, unsafe equipment and machinery, workplace accidents, medical malpractice and any other serious injuries or accidents.

Galfand Berger LLP is located in Philadelphia, PA and serves clients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Bala Cynwyd, Merion Station, Wynnewood, Philadelphia, Narberth, Gladwyne, Elkins Park, Cheltenham, Wyncote, Upper Darby, Ardmore, Glenside, Lafayette Hill, Havertown, Haverford, Flourtown, Darby, Oreland, Jenkintown, Drexel Hill, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County.

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