Pennsylvania UC Law establishes various requirements for eligibility for UC benefits. Among them are the following:
You must have sufficient qualifying wages and a minimum of 18
credit weeks in your
You must have a qualifying separation. And, you must be able and available to accept suitable work and not refuse work when offered.
UC eligibility cannot be predetermined. Your eligibility will be based on the information provided by you and your employer(s) after you file an Initial Application for Benefits.
To make a decision on your eligibility for UC benefits, you and your employer will be given the opportunity to present information on the reason for your separation. If you fail to respond to requests for information, the department will make an eligibility determination based on information provided by your employer. After the department has completed fact finding, a Notice of Determination will be mailed to both parties.
When an employee voluntarily quits work, the employee is typically ineligible for benefits. However, if the employee can meet the burden of showing that he or she has a "necessitous and compelling reason" to quit, benefits may be granted pursuant to Section 402(b) of the UC Law.
Likewise, Section 402(e) of the UC Law deems a claimant ineligible for benefits where the claimant has been found to have been discharged from employment for "willful misconduct connected with his work." The employer must prove willful misconduct has occurred, must show the existence of the work rule/policy, and must show that the employee knowingly violated the policy (BK Foods, Inc. v. UCBR). If the employer proves willful misconduct, then the burden shifts to the claimant to show that there was good cause for the misconduct. Additionally, the employer's rule/policy must be reasonable in light of all of the circumstances.
In the context of COVID-19 vaccine mandates that are being implemented in the workplace, employers must consider reasonable accommodations for an employee who, because of a disability or sincerely held religious belief, did not or cannot get vaccinated for COVID-19.
It is possible that the employer's policy would allow an employee to refuse to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine, and the employer would provide accommodations for that refusal such as alternatives such as masking, regular COVID-19 testing, working at a social distance from others, working a modified schedule, being given the opportunity to telework, or reassigning the employee to a different position.
A claimant may be ineligible for UC benefits if they intentionally refuse to comply with an employer's policies, either mandating vaccination or allowing for acceptable alternatives to vaccination.
Ultimately, UC eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis. Employers and claimants alike must be afforded the right to be heard during a fact-finding process. Each claimant's circumstance is fact-specific and there is no "one-size-fits-all" answer to these grayer areas absent fact-finding with both the claimant and employer. This has been the case for other vaccine mandates, drug testing, or other types of health testing required by an employer as a condition of employment.
A claimant is ineligible for UC benefits for any week of unemployment during which the claimant is incarcerated after a conviction. If the claimant is incarcerated after a conviction for any part of a week, he/she is ineligible for the entire week. For purposes of UC eligibility, a claimant is still "incarcerated" even if on work release, in a half-way house or in a rehabilitation facility as a condition of his/her sentence. Also, a "conviction" includes pleading guilty or no contest to the criminal charge(s).
If a claimant is incarcerated but not yet convicted, the claimant is ineligible for UC benefits if incarcerated for a majority of the week (i.e., the claimant is not able and available for suitable work).
A financial determination is issued for all claims. The financial determination will indicate if the claimant is financially eligible. Once financial eligibility is met, you must then meet all other UC requirements in order to be eligible to receive benefits, including a valid separation from your former employer.
If you filed on the internet, you should receive an email confirmation after you file your claim. In the first week you will receive three documents per your BenMod preferred notification method: Notice of Financial Determination (UC-44F), UC Claim Confirmation Letter (UC-360) and the PA UC Handbook (UCP-1). Check your claim status.
Note: A determination regarding your separation from employment could take 4-6 weeks, so continue to file your biweekly claims during that time.
The first week of the benefit year that you are unemployed and otherwise eligible for benefits is called the "waiting week." Benefits are not payable for the waiting week but you must file a weekly certification for that week in order to be paid benefits for any claim weeks after your waiting week.
For the duration of the pandemic emergency declaration, the waiting week requirement was temporarily suspended for all UC claimants and that week became a paid compensable week. As of September 5, 2021, the unpaid waiting week is reinstated.
If you file a new UC claim as of 9/5/21 or later, you will have to serve an unpaid waiting week.
If you reopen an existing UC claim effective 9/5/21 or later, on which you have received no payments yet, you will have to serve an unpaid waiting week.
PEUC claimants moving to UC will have to serve an unpaid waiting week if the first eligible claim week is 9/11/21.
You should have received a Notice of Determination from the UC service center stating you are eligible for benefits. If you need a copy of this form, please send an email to
UCP-UC-NEWS@pa.gov, or call the UC service center at 888-313-7284.
You can easily view and print your
benefit payment history Wednesdays through Fridays. Most public service agencies accept this printout for eligibility purposes.
Generally, claimants are not eligible for UC benefits while out of the country because they are out of their local labor market. However, there are a few exceptions. If you were out of the country during any part of a week, please indicate that fact when filing your biweekly claims. Fact finding will need to be conducted to determine your eligibility.
A credit week is any week within the base year that you earned at least $116.00.
You need to have a minimum of 18 credit weeks in your base year to be eligible for any amount of benefits.
UCP-41 provides information about other issues that may affect eligibility for unemployment compensation (UC).