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Unemployment Compensation Benefits

Unemployment Compensation Benefits in Pennsylvania

In this challenging job market, many people are facing the uncertainty and worry that come with being unemployed. Understanding how the unemployment compensation system works in Pennsylvania (also known as PA UC) will allow you to maximize your likelihood of receiving unemployment compensation benefits, benefits that you and your family rely on to withstand the financial hardship of unemployment.

If you are facing the uncertainty of unemployment or having difficulty dealing with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, we strongly encourage you to contact our office at (215) 656-3600 to speak with one of our unemployment compensation attorneys. Alternatively, you may contact us via our website by providing your information in the “Contact Us” box to the right, and an unemployment compensation lawyer from our office will be in touch with you shortly. 

In the meantime, below are some frequently asked questions and answers about unemployment compensation benefits in Pennsylvania.

Frequently Asked Questions on PA Unemployment Compensation

Who is eligible for unemployment compensation benefits?
Individuals who have become unemployed through no fault of their own are potentially eligible for unemployment compensation benefits in Pennsylvania. Employees must satisfy financial eligibility requirements, as well as general eligibility requirements. To satisfy the financial eligibility requirements, you must have worked for at least 18 weeks during the first four of the previous five calendar quarters, and you must have an appropriate distribution of wages during those four quarters. To satisfy the general eligibility requirements, you must be unemployed through no fault of your own, be able and available for suitable work, and be in compliance with Pennsylvania’s “active work search” requirements. 

What are the active work search requirements for PA unemployment compensation?
To be eligible for PA unemployment compensation benefits, you must register for employment search services by going to the Pennsylvania JobGateway website. Upon registration, you must set up an online profile. 

Following registration, you must engage in an active search for work. Initially, you must apply for at least two positions per week. Beginning with the ninth consecutive week of unemployment, you must apply for at least three positions per week. 

For each week after the second consecutive week of unemployment, you must do at least one of the following: 1) attend a job fair; 2) search for positions on the JobGateway system or internet job bank; 3) create or post a resume on the JobGateway system or some other resuming posting service; 4) network by contacting colleagues, former coworkers, etc.; 5) utilize the services of an employment agency; 6) take a civil service or some other pre-employment test; or 7) participate in a Pennsylvania CareerLink program. If you exceed the minimum number of positions applied for in one week, you need not comply with this second part of the active work search requirement. 

Although you are not regularly required to submit proof of your active work search to the PA unemployment compensation office, you are required to keep a record of your efforts. You may do so on the JobGateway website, or you may maintain your own files. Pennsylvania unemployment compensation authorities may at any time request that you produce your work search record. Failure to provide this information may result in liability to repay benefits. 

How do I apply for unemployment compensation benefits?
You can apply via telephone by calling 1-888-313-7284, online at or, or by mailing an application to your local CareerLink office or the PA Unemployment Compensation service center.

How do I file an appeal for PA unemployment compensation benefits?
After submitting an application for PA unemployment compensation benefits, you will receive a Notice of Financial Determination and a Notice of Determination in the mail. In the event that either or both of these determinations find you ineligible for benefits, you have the right to file an appeal, as long as you do so within 15 days of the determination’s mailing date. It is very important to submit your appeal in a timely fashion. Instructions for filing an appeal will be included with your Notice of Financial Determination and Notice of Determination. Likewise, your former employer has the right to appeal a determination finding you eligible for benefits. 

After you file your appeal, your case will be assigned to an unemployment compensation referee’s office near your home, and scheduled for a hearing. Currently, there are PA unemployment compensation referee offices in Bethlehem, Bristol, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Hermitage, Johnstown, Lancaster, Malvern, McKeesport, Norristown, Oil City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Reading, Scranton, Springfield, Washington, Wilkes-Barre, and Williamsport. 

In the event that your former employer files an appeal, you will be notified via mail of the appeal. The referee’s office will then set a date for a hearing on your unemployment compensation claim, and will notify you and your former employer of that date via a Notice of Hearing in the mail. 

What should I expect at an unemployment compensation referee’s hearing in PA?
The referee’s hearing is your opportunity to provide evidence and testimony in support of your application for PA unemployment compensation benefits. Your former employer will be notified of the hearing date, time and location, and will likely attend the hearing to fight your receipt of unemployment compensation benefits. 

Following the hearing, the referee will review the evidence and testimony and determine whether you are eligible or ineligible for PA UC benefits. You will receive a written decision in the mail. This decision is appealable to the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review.

How do I file an appeal with the PA Unemployment Compensation Board of Review?
A referee’s decision may be appealed to the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, so long as the party filing the appeal does so within 15 days of the mailing date of the referee’s decision. Instructions for filing an appeal will be included with your referee’s decision. 

Do I need to hire an unemployment compensation lawyer in PA?
You are at a great advantage if you retain an attorney to represent you at your referee’s hearing because the rules of evidence apply. Your former employer may appear at the hearing with a lawyer or other non-legal representative. Having a lawyer present with you will maximize your chance at success before the referee.

Generally speaking, the referee’s hearing is the sole opportunity for you to present testimony and evidence. Once the referee’s hearing is complete, the factual record is closed. A Willig, Williams & Davison unemployment compensation lawyer can assist you by:

  • Making legal objections to harmful and/or inappropriate evidence
  • Cross-examining your former employer’s witnesses
  • Arguing your case to the referee
  • Subpoenaing documents and witnesses
  • Organizing your testimony to make it most persuasive
  • Filing and/or responding to appeals

How much does it cost to hire a PA UC lawyer?
In order to represent you at your PA unemployment compensation hearing, Willig, Williams & Davidson charges an hourly rate of $185, billed against a $500 retainer fee. 

If you need assistance with your unemployment compensation case, we are here to help. Please call us at (215) 656-3600 to speak with one of our unemployment compensation attorneys or contact us via our website by providing your information in the "Contact Us" box to the right.



Lauren Hoye
James R. Glowacki


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