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Zachary Zawarski is an employment and labor law attorney located in the Lehigh Valley. One of his areas of practice is helping employees throughout the unemployment compensation (UC) process.
Filing PA UC Claims
As soon as you are terminated, apply for unemployment compensation (UC) benefits immediately. Claims can be filed online at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor website. The process is a brief application asking you for your contact information, employer’s information, and the reason for your termination. Be sure to answer each question concerning your separation truthfully. Anyone who knowingly makes a false statement to obtain benefits may face criminal and civil penalties, including jail time.
PA UC Eligibility
In order to be eligible for PA UC benefits, you must have earned at least $50 a week for the last 16 weeks. The Department of Labor will review your wage records to determine if you’ve earned sufficient wages to qualify for unemployment benefits. The Department of Labor will then calculate your weekly benefit amount (WBA). They will then review whether your separation disqualifies you from receiving UC benefits. You will not be eligible for UC benefits if you were terminated for willful misconduct or you voluntarily quit. You may want to read our articles on PA unemployment compensation eligibility for more information.
PA UC Benefits Process
The process begins by filing a claim for unemployment compensation with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor. You will then be issued a Notice of Determination which will state whether you are eligible or ineligible for UC benefits.
If your benefits are denied, you may appeal the determination and you will receive a UC Referee Hearing who will determine your eligibility for UC benefits. If you are eligible for benefits, the employer can also challenge your benefits by requesting a referee hearing to challenge your benefits. This will occur if the employer is arguing that you were terminated for willful misconduct, you quit, or they have another basis to challenge your benefits.
If you are seeking to appeal a denial of benefits, you must appeal the determination within 15 days from the date that the decision was mailed. A hearing date will then be set with a UC referee who will hear the evidence and testimony of any witnesses and issue a determination on your eligibility.
If you are denied UC benefits by the UC referee, you can further appeal this determination to the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, who will review the record and determine if the referee’s decision was correct. The Board of Review will not consider any additional evidence. All evidence must be presented during the initial referee hearing. However, you can request to file an brief to present any legal arguments as to why the referee’s decision did not correctly apply the law to the evidence in the record. Appeals to the Board of Review must be made within 15 days from the date of referee’s decision.
If your claim remains denied after the Board of Review reviews the decision, you have one final appeal to the Commonwealth Court. This appeal will consist of the filing of a brief. Appeals to the Commonwealth Court must be made within 30 days from the Board of Review’s decision.
Seeking An Attorney
You may be wondering, do I need an attorney? An attorney can be useful to help you understand the process, provide you with peace of mind, and argue your case before the UC Referee, Board of Review, or Commonwealth Court.
You are able to represent yourself during the referee hearing. However, you will maximize your chances of a successful appeal if you are represented by an attorney because an attorney will be able to cross-examine witnesses and establish legal arguments as to why you are entitled to UC benefits. Additionally, an attorney should be used to file a brief with the Board of Review or Commonwealth Court so it is given greater consideration during the appeals process.
With so much at stake, it’s strongly advised to be represented by an attorney during this process. To speak with an experienced Pennsylvania unemployment compensation benefits attorney, please call (610) 417-6345.
Unemployment Compensation FAQ Articles
Feel free to review our unemployment blog for our unemployment compensation FAQ articles for additional information on specific legal questions and issues.