How Long Do I Have to Work For to Collect Unemployment in Pennsylvania?

There is no minimum amount of time or wages an employer has to meet in order to qualify under unemployment compensation.

To qualify for unemployment insurance in PA:

–  your total base period earnings must be at least $2,718
–  your HQW must be at least $1,688 [which is the same as: you must qualify for the minimum weekly benefit amount (WBA) of $70 → the WBA is computed by multiplying your HQW by 1/25]

–  you must earn at least 37% of your total base period wages outside of the wages you earned in your highest quarter
–  you must have a total of 18 credit weeks within the entire base period – which means you were employed for at least 18 weeks in the base period and earned at least $116 in each of those weeks.

http://www.uc.pa.gov/unemployment-benefits/benefits-information/Pages/Weekly-Benefit-Rate.aspx

PA offers an extended base period for those who received worker’s compensation during the regular base period. If you qualify, the base period may be extended up to four quarters preceding the date of being injured/disabled. PA does not offer an alternate base period.

54 comments

  • Ken

    Plan to file in PA. Did not work any in 2016.
    Worked:
    Virginia: One week (Starts 1/16/17)
    Louisiana: Four weeks
    Pennsylvania: Five weeks
    Louisiana: Seven,(ends 5/21/17, maybe Eight weeks (5.28/17, (still working, end unknown)
    No more work available after 5/28/17, done working.
    Average gross per week: $2,300
    Question 1: If I only end up with 17 weeks, will PA still approve me? Would it be automatically or on appeal?
    Question 2: I need to file on/after 4/1/18, right?

  • Mica

    I worked from August 2016 till April 2017 will I qualify for unemployment? It has been 2 years since my last job before this.

    • PA will only use the base period Jan-Dec. 2016 for any claims submitted now. Assuming your high quarter wages appear Oct-Dec. 2016, wages earned between Aug-Sept. must be at least 37% of your total wages Jan-Dec. 2016. If you worked two solid months Aug-Sept., you should be OK assuming the same average weekly wage for the five months worked in the base period.

  • Jackie

    I have been working through the company at my job since I started working back in novermber 2016 and at this job we have unpaid time hours and paid time hours if we go negative on our unpaid time they fire us will I be eligible for unemployment since I wasn’t able to go into work due to my babysitter not showing up I called && let them know but they still terminated me will I be able to collect ?

    • Possibly, although your employer will cite absenteeism/rules violation (negative on time off) as the reason for the discharge, which is usually an automatic denial no matter what you tell the interviewer. You can plead your circumstances at appeal. You have a 50/50 chance of winning benefits at appeal. Expect no benefits for at least two months, possibly longer. If you win, PA will pay you retro to the date of discharge.

  • Hector

    So I been working through a temp agency for 3 months and out of nowhere I received an email ending my assignment while I was at work but before leaving work I stopped to talk to my temp manager so if I was fired she would have told me then. I was wondering will I be able to collect due to this? I have worked for a few temp jobs since November of 2016 but prior to that I was on disability. Will I be eligible?

    • Be sure to keep in contact with the temp agency, asking for new assignments – and keep good records of these contacts, or the agency will accuse you of a quit regardless they ended your contract (temp agencies lie all the time) – which will put a serious crimp in any claim application.

      Aside from that, PA will look at wages Jan-Dec 2016. In most states disability income will substitute for wages as employers pay full UI/FICA taxes on these wages. If you have income – whether wages or disability – in two quarters of 2016, you might have eligibility. PA also requires that 37% of your total wages occur outside your high quarter.

      Apply for benefits and let PA sort out your financial eligibility.

  • Kate

    If I worked 16 weeks in PA and was given 8 weeks of severance pay in a lump sum will I qualify for the 18 weeks since PA rules say you need 18 weeks of credit weeks regardless of when paid? Provided of course I meet all other criteria.

    Just for the record, assume this is all in the correct base period so the real question is do severance weeks count towards credit weeks if paid in a lump sum? They count against you if paid in a lump sum so I am thinking they should count as credit weeks if paid in a lump sum?

    • PA does categorize severance as wages. So, eight weeks severance will be added to weeks worked. But forget about that, because PA will not disqualify you if you lack 18 weeks work in PA. What matters is total wages in the base period from ALL employers – even in other states. In that case, you would be applying for a combined-wage claim.

      Applying now, PA will review wages Jan-Dec. 2016. You need wages in at least two quarters of 2016 to qualify for benefits. Further, PA requires that wages outside your high quarter in the base period are equal to at least 37% of total wages paid.

      If your only work in 2016 was this job, you won’t have two quarters of wages for PA to consider until July. If you have other work history in PA or another state during 2016, apply in PA and ask for a combined-wage claim. Or, apply in the state preceding the PA employment.

  • Patrice

    I began working Nov. 3 2016, but did not work for over two years prior to finish school. I will have limited hours in the summer based on the fact I work with children in school/home and community. I applied for UC based on my lack of hours now, but was denied. When can I reapply and receive benefits?

  • James

    I was employed from Oct. 24, 2016 until March 1st, 2017. For simplicity sake assume I had no employment before than because the employment I did have will not qualify. If I wait until April 1st to apply for unemployment will I then have a chance at being eligible because I essentially earned the same amount of money in each quarter (2 months Oct-Dec 2016 and 2 months Jan-Mar 2016)

    • No, you won’t qualify. Unlike most states, PA uses only the standard base period. PA does not have an alternate base period which would include earnings to the most recently completed quarter.

      If you apply April 2nd, PA will use earnings Jan-Dec. 2016.

      You will need to wait until July 2nd before earnings through 3/31/2017 can be considered.

  • Brooke Holmes

    I was employed as a fulltime employee from 2012-2015 but off for 3 months on unpaid maternity leave from August 2015-Nov2015 then back to work fulltime till the company closed April 2016. I collect unemployment from May 2016-October 2016 till I started fulltime seasonal PennDOT work.

    What quarters will be used? Should I be able to collect again starting April 1st 2017?

    Thank you

    • Your first claim used a base period of Jan.-Dec. 2015, so second year base period will be Jan.-Dec. 2016.

      Whether or not your claim will begin on April 1st will depend on when the first benefit year expires.

      Assuming you applied for benefits in April 2016, your current claim was backdated to the Sunday of the week you applied and expires 52-weeks later on a Saturday in April 2017. You need to check the benefit year end date of your current claim – again, that would be one year after your filed in 2016. The week that claim expires is the week you should reapply for a new claim. Apply on either Wednesday or Thursday of that week. It will take PA a few weeks to get the claim processed.

      You need to have worked between 4/16 and 4/17 and earned 6x your current weekly benefit amount to qualify for another claim. If you’ve been working since October, you’ve surely earned 6x your WBA and should qualify for a second year claim without a problem.

  • Heidi Youse

    If an employee is laid off from a position after 20 weeks of work, do they collect unemployment benefits from the previous employer or the one that just laid them off? What is the time period for starting in a new position then being laid off but the benefits come from the previous employer.

    • In PA, if you apply now, your claim will be based on earnings between 10/01/2015-09/30/2016. If you apply April 2nd-July 2nd, earnings base period will be Jan-Dec. 2016, and so on and so forth. That said, even if your current employer’s wages are not in the base period used for the claim, their account will still be assessed for part of the benefits paid. It shouldn’t matter to you which employer’s account is charged, as there isn’t anything you can do about it.

  • Daly

    Can I receive unemployment if I been at a job for 3 months through a temp agency? I never received unemployment before.

    • Maybe. Have you worked before this? If so, when? You need at least two quarters of earnings between 10/1/2016-9/30/2016 and 37% of total base period earnings must occur outside your high quarter. If your only work has been this temp job, you do not qualify at this time.

      Also, be sure to keep in touch w/temp agency on other jobs and keep notes of those contacts, or temp agency will say you quit and you will be denied

      • Tee

        What is a person supposed to do if the only work you can get is temp work? I’ve applied everywhere & nothing is happening and I was recently denied unemployment too. I really wanna cry right now

        • An unemployment denial is not cast in stone. Many appeals are won. Half the battle is requesting the appeal and appearing at the hearing. If you feel you were unjustly denied and the appeal timeframe has not passed, appeal the denial. Meanwhile, you accept the temp work and keep looking – and see your county social services people for assistance.

    • Joe

      Can I receive unemployment if I worked the last 6 months ?

      • Not if you had no earnings prior to September 30, 2016.

        If you apply now, 37% of your total earnings between 10/1/2015-9/30/2016 must occur outside your high quarter.

        If you apply on or after April 2nd, you may have a better chance because PA will be looking at earnings between Jan-Dec.2016. Even then if you only began work in September, chances are you won’t meet the 37% test.

        • Joe

          What if I reported an employee for being late and leaving job sites or hours at a time and they then gave me warning letter to sign which was a lie and i choose not to sign it and they called the cops

          • If you don’t have the earnings between 10/2015-9/2016, you are not eligible for benefits no matter the circumstances of the discharge.

            Even if you file a complaint for wrongful discharge w/PA DOL and it finds you were unjustly discharged, you still don’t have enough earnings for benefits. You would then need to try to recover monies from your employer for lost wages and other damages – but unemployment benefits cannot be a part of this picture because the earnings aren’t there to support a claim.

  • anastacia

    I worked for a company for 5 years, I was fired for supposedly stealing company time because my log in/out on the computer wasn’t working, sometimes I logged out from my phone on the way home. I got a new job through a temp agency that was supposed to become permanent after 3 months, the company was bought out 2 weeks ago and is not keeping any of the old employees, hence I’ve worked 3 months and am now laid off, will I be able to collect?

    • Yes, if you earned enough (6x your weekly benefit amount) at the new job to purge the discharge for misconduct at the old job. If you have two or three solid quarters of wages remaining in the base in the base period (10/1/2015-9/30/2016), you should qualify. Apply immediately. Be prepared to provide paystubs for your most recent work.

  • nikole

    can i collect unemploymet if i only worked 3 months but prior to this i worked from sept 2014 til june 2016 i collect uc for 6 months. I did recieve bennifits from july 22 2016 til nov 27 2016

    • if you filed for and began benefits in July 2016, then you must wait until July 2017 until you are eligible for another claim – and that would be only if you have earned new wages before then.

      Base period if your claim expires in July 2017, will be April 1, 2016-March 31, 2017. From what you’ve said, the only wages you’ve got in that period are wages between April-June 2016 – that won’t qualify you.

  • T

    I worked for a company from 10/2005 thru 12/2016. I left this company to pursue a career at a different institution that started on 1/2/2017. I worked there for 4 weeks and HR decided to separate employment because they could not confirm my education background. Would I be eligible for UC benefits in PA?

    • Yes, absolutely apply. You have an 11-year work history.

      PA requires you earn 6x your UI weekly benefit amount after a quit before it will pay benefits in a situation like yours. Divide your high quarter wages by 25 to determine weekly benefit amount, not to exceed $573. Then multiply that by 6. If you earned that in January at your new job, you qualify. You will need to provide PA paystubs as proof of earnings.

      Apply in PA immediately regardless of how you calculate your situation and let PA take it from there.

  • Chris

    I am in Pennsylvania and I started working a new job on August 15th 2016 and just found out I was being laid off as my last day will be February 3rd 2017. I would have worked a total of 24 weeks in that time span and earned enough in wages. I wouldn’t have a problem qualifying for unemployment under these conditions correct??? Can somebody please let me know if I would be eligible?? Thank you.

    • Do you have earnings in another state prior to working in PA? If so, when and where? You might be better off applying in that state, and then in PA when the first claim is exhausted.

      PA requires two quarters of earnings in the base period. The ONLY base period PA will use at this time is earnings October 1, 2015-September 30, 2016.

      Unless you have other earnings going back to 10/2015, you are not eligible for a claim at this time. Earnings in another state can be included. You would need to ask PA for a combined-wage claim.

      In addition, total wages outside your high quarter must equal at least 37% of total wages in the base period.

      • Chris

        Okay well I was working from October 1st 2015 until March 31st 2016 before I was laid off at my other place of employment. And I was employed from September 2014 until October 2015 at the same place. And like I mentioned before I have worked this job I am about to be laid off from August 2016 until February 2017. So would I qualify then if this is the case and would it have to go through my current employer who just laid me off to do so if that makes sense.

        • Chris

          One more thing both of these jobs the one from Oct 2015-March 2016 and this current one fromAugust 2016-February 2017 are in PA. So like you mentioned if that was the case and I had employment also from September 2014-October 2015 I would then qualify correct??

          • Yes, you have the quarters, so apply for benefits. PA will ask about all employers in the base period as well as your last employer, and send queries to all about the separations. But your claim benefits will be based on earnings October 1, 2015-September 30, 2016 – essentially three quarters.

  • Dan

    I worked from the last week in August of 2016 to the second or third week of December.I was employed for 18 weeks.For two years before that I worked for a guy who paid me under the table with the constant failing promise of going on the books so I could get medical coverage.I was told I did not make the financial requirements the previous year to be eligible for unemployment.I just got a letter stating I will lose my chance at benefits if I do not complete my application( creating a profile on job finder).Do I actually have a chance at benefits or was the letter just sent as part of the process?Should I continue trying to get my unemployment benefits?

    • Yes, the system is just asking you to complete the profile for processing purposes. PA right now requires two quarters of earnings through September 30, 2016. You have only one quarter of earnings in the available base period. You don’t qualify in PA at this time.

  • Ben Harris

    Hey, I am new to PA and unfamiliar with unemployment there. I moved there from NJ and only worked from Oct 1, 2016 and got laid off on Dec 30, 2016. I was employed through a temp agency. Since then I have been having a hard time finding employment due to transportation issues. I also notified my temp agency and gave them a couple weeks to find me assignments and kept calling but they did not have anything. I also could not afford rent where I was staying so I moved back to Jersey. If I don’t find a job in Jersey will I be able to collect unemployment in PA if I file in April? I earned $5700 during my employment in PA. I would really appreciate it if someone could help me with this question. Kind regards.

    • Depends on your work history. PA uses only one base period. Filing in April, PA will use wages Jan.-Dec. 2016. In addition, however, in PA you need two quarters of earnings, with 37% of total earnings outside your high quarter. You would need to ask PA for a combined wage claim to include wages from another state. Frankly, provided you have had NJ wages, your better option would be to request a NJ claim now. A qualifying separation in PA does create eligibility for a NJ claim.

      • Ben Harris

        Thanks for replying Daphne. I am totally lost. I have NO additional work history in PA. I just worked from Oct 2016-Dec 2016 and earned $5700 in those months. I don’t think I would qualify for a NJ claim because in NJ you had to have at least earned $8400 or worked 20 base weeks. I did not work in 2016 prior to the month of Oct when relocating to PA.

        • Do you have NJ work October 2015 – September 2016? If you earned $8,400 then, you would still qualify in NJ. Standard base period if you applied now would be October 1, 2015-September 30, 2016.

          If not, sorry to say you don’t qualify in either state at this time.

          Try to find some work in NJ. It is easier to get a claim there as NJ uses three base periods, including to the date of discharge. If you experience a qualifying separation in NJ going forward, when you apply ask NJ for a combined-wage claim to pick up the PA earnings.

          • Ben Harris

            Hey Daphne, thanks back again! I have read what you suggested and come to find out, I just received all my W2’s for 2016. With combined wages from NJ and PA, I have enough to meet the criteria if I apply for unemployment in NJ totaling $9,260.94. But here is the problem, $2159.02 from that is Third Party Sick Pay (NJ). Will that count towards my claim if I file in NJ in April 2017 under a combined-wage claim? I would appreciate it if you could shed some light on this. Kind regards!

          • You don’t have to wait until April if you apply in NJ. As I said upthread, you can apply in NJ for a combined-wage claim now. You are no longer working. Most states consider sick pay as wages. You should have had deductions for FICA and other taxes. I’m not sure NJ will be able to use the later PA wages for your claim but, by all means, try. File in NJ now and see where it goes. Let us know what happens.

  • EM

    I was employed with a company 2+ years and laid off 10/16. 11/16 I started with a new company and quit after the 1st day when it was determined managers and HR had lied (during interviews with multiple people) and provided wrong written information about benefits in a union contract. I would have never agreed to these terms and employment had they given the correct info. PA UC determined that I had a compelling reason to quit and allowed me to resume my benefits from my lay off. The second company has appealed this decision. Does the second company even have any grounds to appeal the decision I won? I only worked there for 1 day and my benefit claim is from the job I was laid off from not the second company. Any help is appreciated.

    • Of course, they can appeal. It is your latest quit/separation from their company which is the basis for your continuing benefits on the current claim. If there is no doubt they misrepresented the terms and conditions of the job offered you, they won’t win at appeal, either.

      They care, because at some point their UI taxes may be increased as a result of their being an employer-of-record, even though their wages don’t appear in your base period.

      Some states allow appeals a year after benefits have been paid. And some companies automatically appeal all claims. Best to get this settled now.

  • will

    I started working a new job on july 11 2016 b4 that I was self employed from febuary 2016 and worked for someone in January 2016 will I beable to collect if I get laid off this within the next coup;e of weeks?

  • Elena Babilonia

    If I was hired as a seasonal employee could I receive unemployment benefits if worked 3 months?

    • Not in Pennsylvania unless you have a work history going back to July 2015. Apply now, you need earnings in two quarters between July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016. Apply in January, you need earnings in two quarters October 1, 2015-September 30, 2015. Further, PA has the 49.5% rule, which means almost half your earnings must occur outside your high quarter.

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