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Following are examples of eligibility issues that are not related to the claimant's separation from employment.

Able and Available

Compensation shall be payable to any employee who is, or becomes, unemployed and is able to work and available for suitable work. The claimant must prove a realistic attachment to the local labor market as a whole, as indicated by the claimant's readiness, willingness, and ability to accept some substantial and suitable work. The claimant must certify that he/she is able to accept and is available for suitable work during each week for which he/she files a claim for benefits.

Active Search for Work

Effective with applications for benefits dated Jan. 1, 2012, and after with some exceptions, the claimant is required to register for employment search services offered by the Pennsylvania Careerlink®, apply for positions that offer employment and wages similar to those the individual had prior to becoming unemployed, participate in work search activities, and keep a weekly record of the efforts made to find work.

This is a week-to-week test. The claimant must meet the requirements for each week in order to qualify for benefits.

Corporate Officers

The UC Law was never intended to provide benefits to those individuals who become "unemployed" by reason of the failure of their own business ventures. An individual, who, through ownership of stock and his/her position in the corporation, exercises a "substantial degree of control" over its operation, must be considered a self-employed businessperson. The claimant must provide information showing that he/she is not a self-employed businessperson to be eligible. The only exception with respect to ineligibility of corporate officers is provided in Section 402.4 of the Law. If the corporation has been forced into involuntary bankruptcy under the provisions of Chapter 7, Title 11, of the United States Code, the officers of the corporation would not be ineligible for benefits.

Refusal of Suitable Work

Section 402(a) provides, in part, that an employee shall be ineligible for compensation for any week in which his/her unemployment is due to failure, without good cause, either to apply for suitable work at such time and in such manner as the department may prescribe, or to accept suitable work when offered to him/her by the employment office or by any employer. The employer must notify the department within seven days of the offer of work.

Section 402(a.1) provides a claimant is ineligible for compensation for any week in which the unemployment is due to failure to accept an offer of suitable full-time work in order to pursue seasonal or part-time employment.

The responsibility rests with the department to determine whether the work that was offered was suitable (see "Due to Unsuitable Work under Voluntary Quit"). If the work is determined to be suitable, the claimant must show that he/she had good cause to refuse the referral or to refuse the offer or suitable work to be eligible.

Incarcerated Employees

Section 402.6 provides, in part, that an employee shall not be eligible for any weeks of unemployment during which the employee is incarcerated after a conviction. The party who carries the burden of proof is dependent on who alleges that the claimant is both convicted and incarcerated.

  1. If an employer alleges that the claimant is convicted and incarcerated, the employer must show that the claimant meets both requirements for ineligibility under Section 402.6, in that he/she is both convicted and incarcerated.
  2. Where the department investigates potential ineligibility under Section 402.6 without information from an employer or claimant, the department must show that the claimant is both convicted and incarcerated. If the claimant provides information, which indicates there is a potential issue under Section 402.6, the claimant must show that he/she is not both convicted and incarcerated.
  3. If the claimant provides information, which indicates there is a potential issue under Section 402.6, the claimant must show that he/she is not both convicted and incarcerated.


You may be ineligible for benefits if you participate in a work stoppage that is determined by the department to be a strike.

Severance Pay

Section 404(d)(1) of the PA UC Law provides, in part, that benefits shall be paid to an otherwise eligible employee, compensation in an amount equal to his/her weekly benefit rate less the total amount of severance pay that is attributed to the week.

Severance pay in an amount greater than 40% of the average annual wage will be attributed to the weeks immediately after the claimant’s separation from employment. The claimant’s weekly benefit rate will be reduced for a certain number of weeks, but not to an amount less than zero. The number of weeks will depend on the amount of the severance payment and the claimant’s regular full-time wage.

EXAMPLE: A claimant receives $42,000 in severance pay. Forty percent of Pennsylvania's average annual wage ($50,699.48 for 2018) is $20,280.00. Therefore, $20,280.00 is subtracted from $42,000 equaling $21,720, which is the amount of the claimant's severance pay that is deductible. The claimant was earning $1,200 a week at the time of his separation. Accordingly, the deductible amount of severance pay is allocated at $1,200 per week to the first 18 weeks the claimant is unemployed. Because $1,200 exceeds the maximum weekly UC benefit rate, the claimant would not receive any benefits for this 18-week period. The 19th week would be calculated by taking the remaining severance pay amount of $120.00 to determine eligibility.

This example is to calculate severance pay received in 2018. Please note that the average annual wage is subject to change each year which will change the calculation.

*The average annual wage, for unemployment compensation purposes, is based on the most recent three fiscal years, or 36 months of data. Effective with claim week ending Jan. 13, 2018, the severance pay calculations will change in accordance with the new average annual wage.

Social Security or Pensions

Pensions and retirement payments are deducted from UC if a base-year employer maintained or contributed to the pension plan and base-year employment affected the claimant's eligibility for, or increased the amount of, the pension. Fifty percent of the pro-rated, weekly pension amount is deducted if the claimant contributed in any amount to the pension plan. If the pension is entirely employer funded, 100 percent of the pro-rated, weekly pension amount is deducted from UC.

Social Security and Railroad Retirement pensions are not deducted from UC benefit payments.

A lump-sum pension payment is not deducted from UC, unless the claimant had the option of taking a monthly pension. In addition, a lump-sum pension is not deductible if the claimant "rolls over" the lump-sum into an eligible retirement plan such as an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) within 60 days of receipt.

Predetermination of Claims

Please note that eligibility for unemployment compensation is not predetermined. Eligibility determinations only are made after an application for benefits has been filed and are based on the individual circumstances of each case. If you have a question regarding your claim or the claim of a former employee, please contact a UC service center at 1-888-313-7284.

Understanding the Determination

If you have any questions or do not understand any part of a determination, please feel free to contact the UC service center to request an explanation of your determination. For example, if you do not understand the provision of the Law, or if there are findings of fact that you question, you may contact the UC service center for an explanation.

Appeal Rights

You may appeal if the determination denies benefits and you think you should be eligible for benefits, or the determination grants benefits and you think you should be eligible for more benefits.

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The information provided on this site does not constitute a determination of eligibility to receive unemployment compensation.