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Maintaining Your Eligibility for Benefits

Your Biweekly Claim Requirement

You must file a claim for each week in which you are totally or partially unemployed. A "week" is a calendar week beginning on Sunday and ending the following Saturday. The date of the Saturday is called the claim week ending date, or CWE Date. Generally, you will file claims for two weeks at one time. This is called a biweekly claim. Although you will file for two weeks at a time, you will certify your eligibility for each week separately.

How To File Your Biweekly Claim

To file your biweekly claim, you will need:

  • Your Social Security number and your PIN (personal identification number).
  • The gross amount of your earnings (total amount of money earned before taxes or other deductions) for all work performed during the week. (See What Happens When You Find Employment)
  • If you were absent from work when work was available during the week, the gross amount you would have earned if you had not been absent.
  • The gross amount of holiday pay and vacation pay, if any, for the week. (See Your Additional Responsibilities)

Filing over the Internet: You may file your biweekly claims online Sunday, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. After you have submitted your biweekly claim, a confirmation page will display advising you that your claim has been accepted. Do not exit the site before you receive this confirmation. If you do, your claim will not be filed and you will have to file your claim again.

Filing by Telephone (Pennsylvania Teleclaims—PAT): PAT is the department's system for filing claims by telephone. You must have a push-button telephone to use PAT. If you do not have touch-tone service, but have a telephone with a PULSE/TONE switch, call PAT with the switch in the PULSE position. When PAT answers your call, move the switch to the TONE position. You may file your biweekly claims using PAT Sunday, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Telephone numbers for PAT are available here. If you get a busy signal, hang up, wait a while, and try again.

PAT will ask you a series of questions about your eligibility for UC for the first week of your biweekly claim(access the list of PAT questions). You will answer each question "yes" or "no" using the numbers on your telephone keypad. When you have answered the questions, you may have your answers repeated, clear your answers and begin again, or have your answers processed. After you have finished claiming the first week, and if a second week is available for you to claim, PAT will ask if you wish to claim benefits for the second week (PAT will identify the second week by its CWE date).

After you have completed your biweekly claim, PAT will tell you that your claim has been accepted. Do not hang up until you hear this confirmation. If you hang up or get disconnected before PAT confirms that your claim has been accepted, you will have to call again to file your claim for benefits.

Filing by Mail: This is permitted only in specific circumstances. Please contact 888-313-7284 [TTY Users 888-334-4046] for information on filing claims by mail.

Filing by TTY: You may file your biweekly claims using TTY service 24 hours a day, 6 days a week (Sunday through Friday). First, you must obtain the TTY biweekly filing instructions and eligibility questions online from our TTY Information page, or by contacting the UC service center or local PA CareerLink® office. After you obtain the biweekly questions, it is recommended that you review the questions ahead of time and record the answers on paper before transmitting answers through TTY. By preparing the answers in advance, there will be an increase in accuracy and reduction of mistakes that could delay benefit payment. Also, the time making the TTY call will be substantially reduced.

After you have prepared your answers, connect to the UC service center through TTY 888-334-4046. Once the UC office greeting has completed, you must type the number of the question and its answer. There is no need to type in the question itself. Continue until all questions have been answered, then disconnect the call. You will be contacted through relay service if we need additional information or have questions about your responses.

When To File Your Biweekly Claim
Your biweekly claim must be filed during the week (Sunday through Friday) immediately following the two weeks you are claiming. Your Claim Confirmation Letter will tell you when to file your first biweekly claim. If you remain totally or partially unemployed, you will continue to file biweekly claims every two weeks until you exhaust your benefits. You may call PAT to learn when to file your next claim.

If You Forget To File
If you fail to file your biweekly claim at the proper time, you may be denied benefits for those weeks and your UC claim will become "inactive." You must contact your UC service center to reactivate your claim. If you return to work but then become unemployed again, you may reopen your claim online or by calling the UC service center.

REMEMBER! If you are waiting for the department to determine whether you are eligible for benefits, continue to file your biweekly claims. If you are determined to be eligible, you will only get benefits for the weeks for which you filed claims.

The Waiting Week
The first week of the Benefit Year that you are unemployed and found eligible for benefits is called the Waiting Week. (See your Notice of Financial Determination and accompanying insert entitled "Explanation of Your Notice of Financial Determination" for information about your Benefit Year.)

Benefits are not payable for the Waiting Week but you must file a claim for that week in order to receive credit for it.

Your Work Registration Requirement

You must register for employment-search within 30 days after filing an application for benefits.

  • If your local labor market is outside of Pennsylvania, you must register with the state employment service that serves your local labor market.

  • If your local labor market is within Pennsylvania (either you live in PA, or commute to PA for work) you must register for employment-search services through PA CareerLink®.

NEW REGISTRATION-To register for employment-search services, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the Pennsylvania CareerLink® website at www.pacareerlink.pa.gov and click on "Register."
  2. Click on "Unemployment Compensation (UC) Claimant" as the user type.
  3. Enter your name, date of birth, and your complete Social Security number.
  4. Click on "Continue."
  5. Provide your personal information and click "Save and Continue."

    NOTE: It is crucial that both your name and mailing address are the same in both the UC and PA CareerLink® systems.

  6. Provide the information requested to create a Keystone ID (user name) and password as well as your Hint Questions/Answers. Click "Save and Continue."
  7. Provide the information applicable to you to complete your "Profile" and "Job Preferences."
  8. Once you have completed the registration process, you will receive a "Registration Confirmation" page. Be sure to print this page or write down your Keystone ID and Participant Identification Number for your records. Do not send the confirmation to the UC service center or PA CareerLink® office.

PREVIOUS/PARTIAL REGISTRATION - If you previously created a Keystone ID or partially registered with PA CareerLink®, follow the steps below to fully register and avoid ineligibility:

  • If you never created a Keystone ID/Password, go to www.pacareerlink.pa.gov and click on "Register." Follow the instructions above for NEW REGISTRATION as if registering for the first time.

  • If you have forgotten your Keystone ID or Password, go to www.pacareerlink.pa.gov and click on "Forgot your Keystone ID / Password?" On the next screen, select "Job Seeker" and choose one of the options provided to retrieve your Keystone ID, reset your password or reset your hint questions and answers. You may be asked to provide the Participant Identification Number assigned to you by the PA CareerLink® system. If you do not know your Participant Identification Number, you have the option of having it emailed to the email address in your PA CareerLink® profile, obtaining it by contacting your local PA CareerLink® office, or having it mailed to you.

HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU ARE COMPLETELY REGISTERED?

Look in the upper right corner of the Dashboard for the "UC Registration Compliance" box.

  • If the box indicates that your status is "Completed", then you are fully registered. Click the "View UC Confirmation" link and print the confirmation page for your records.

  • If the box indicates that your status is "Incomplete," click on the "Completion of My Profile" link and add an Experience record to your My Resume page.

IMPORTANT: When attempting to register, if you receive a message saying that you may already have an account in the system, do NOT assume that you are fully registered for UC purposes.

Contact your local PA CareerLink® office to determine if you have an existing account and, if so, whether or not you have completed the elements to satisfy the UC registration requirement.

If you experience difficulty registering for employment-search services, please contact your local PA CareerLink® office, go to www.pacareerlink.pa.gov, click on "Offices" and enter your Zip Code in the "Search" field.

Your Weekly Work Search Requirements

You must actively search for work in order to be eligible for benefits.

Q. What are the weekly work search requirements?
A. Generally, beginning with the third week in your Benefit Year for which you file a UC claim, you must apply for two jobs and participate in one work search activity each week.

Q. What kind of jobs can I apply for?
A. You may apply for jobs that would provide suitable work; that is, any work that you are capable of performing. However, you are allowed to limit your job applications to jobs that offer employment and wages similar to what you had before you became unemployed, and are within a 45-minute commute. If adhering to that limitation prevents you from applying for two jobs, you may choose one of two options for each application that you are unable to make: (1) you may participate in a work search activity, or (2) you may disregard that limitation and apply for a job offering suitable work.

Q. What are the acceptable ways to apply for a job?
A. You may apply for a job in person, by mail, phone or electronic transmission, by submitting a job application or résumé to the employer, or by following a hiring procedure established by the employer. A repeated application for the same job does not count unless there is a reasonable basis to believe that the employer's hiring circumstances have changed.

Q. What qualifies as a work search activity?
A. You may choose from these seven work search activities:

  • Attend a job fair.
  • Search positions posted on the PA CareerLink® system or Internet job banks.
  • Create or post a résumé in the PA CareerLink® system or post a résumé in other résumé-posting services.
  • Contact colleagues, former co-workers or other individuals in similar professions or occupations to make known your availability for employment or obtain information about available positions, prospective employers or other employment opportunities.
  • Utilize an employment agency, employment registry or school placement service.
  • Take a civil service test or other pre-employment test.
  • Participate in a program or activity offered through the Pennsylvania CareerLink® system.
If you live outside of Pennsylvania, you may participate in these types of activities offered by your state employment service.

 

Q. Do I receive credit for a job interview?
A. Yes, you may substitute a job interview by an employer for one of your job applications or a work search activity.

Q. Do I receive credit for an extra job application?
A. Yes, if you apply for more than two jobs in a week, you do not have to participate in a work search activity during that week.

Q. Are the weekly requirements different if I am working part time?
A. If you are working part time during a week and you earn more than your Partial Benefit Credit (PBC), you only have to apply for one job during the week, instead of two, and you do not have to participate in a work search activity during that week. (See your Notice of Financial Determination and accompanying insert entitled "Explanation of Your Notice of Financial Determination" for information about your PBC.)

Q. Must I keep a record of my job applications and work search activities?
A. Yes. You are encouraged to use Form UC-304, entitled "Work Search Record." A copy of the form is also included in the UC Handbook you received in the mail. You are not required to use Form UC-304 as long as your record includes the same information that would be contained on Form UC-304. You must retain your record for a period of two years from your Application for Benefits (AB) date. (See your Notice of Financial Determination and accompanying insert entitled "Explanation of Your Notice of Financial Determination" for information about your AB Date.) The department monitors the work search activities of UC claimants. Failure to provide your work search record upon request, in the manner specified by the department, may result in ineligibility for benefits and liability to repay benefits you have received. Do not send your work search record to the department unless you are asked to do so.

Q. How do I know if I have met the work search requirements for a week?
A. You may use this chart to verify that you have satisfied the UC work search requirements. Each column in the chart represents one of the three weekly requirements. In each column, check the box that indicates how you satisfied that requirement or a substitute requirement. You may enter only one checkmark for each job application, work search activity or interview. If you are able to check one box in each column, you have satisfied your UC work search requirements for the week.

1st Job Application 2nd Job Application Work Search Activity
  • I applied for a job.
  • I participated in a work search activity because I am limiting my job applications.
  • I had a job interview.
  • I applied for a job.
  • I participated in a work search activity because I am limiting my job applications.
  • I had a job interview.
  • I participated in a work search activity.
  • I applied for a 3rd job.
  • I had a job interview.
 
  • I worked part time during the week and earned more than my PBC. A second job application and a work search activity are not required.

When the Work Registration and Work Search Requirements Don't Apply

Exemptions
The weekly work search requirements, or both the registration requirement and the weekly work search requirements, will not apply to a week if you satisfy one of the following exceptions for the week:

Exemption Registration
Requirement Does Not Apply
Weekly Work Search
Requirement Does Not Apply
You actively participate during the week in a program or activity approved by the department as an acceptable work search alternative.  

X

During the week you (1) are a member of a union that has a hiring hall or are registered with a hiring hall, (2) are required to obtain employment through the hiring hall, and (3) fulfill all requirements to maintain eligibility for referral by the hiring hall during the week.  

X

During the week you are participating in the Shared-Work Program under Article XIII of the Law.

X

X

During the week you are in training approved by the department or under the Trade Act.

X

X

During the week you are required to participate in Pennsylvania Profile Reemployment Program (PREP) at a PA CareerLink® under Section 402(j) of the Law.

X

X

You are unemployed for the week because your employer reduced your hours of work or laid you off for economic reasons and the employer has advised you in good faith and in writing that you will return to work on a specific date.

X

The exemption continues until the recall date is rescinded or has passed.

You must keep a copy of the recall notice. You must notify the UC service center of your return-to-work date..

X

The exemption continues until the recall date is rescinded or has passed.

You must keep a copy of the recall notice. You must notify the UC service center of your return-to-work date.

Waiver
The department may waive or alter the work registration and weekly work search requirements in cases or situations where compliance would be oppressive or inconsistent with the purposes of the Law. A waiver request form is available here. IMPORTANT: If you request a waiver or alteration of your work registration or work search requirements for reasons that render you unable to work or unavailable for work, you may be ineligible for benefits.

Your Able and Available Requirement

To be eligible for UC benefits, you must be able to work and available to return to work, either to your old job or a new job..

You May Be Disqualified If:

  • You are physically incapable of working.
  • You are not available for work because:
    • You are outside your labor market on vacation.
    • You are out of the country. If you are planning to travel outside of the United States, please contact your UC service center prior to leaving.
    • You are incarcerated.
    • You do not have a way to get to a job.
    • You do not have daycare for children.

If you are disqualified from receiving benefits because you are not able and available for work but you become able and available at a later date, contact your local UC service center to see if you can resume UC benefits.

Let's Review! To be eligible for benefits you must:

  • Meet minimum wage and employment requirements (financial eligibility).
  • Be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own (a qualifying separation).
  • File timely biweekly claims while you are unemployed and serve an unpaid waiting week.
  • Register for employment-search services within 30 days of your application for benefits, actively search for work and keep a record of your work search efforts.
  • Be able to work and available for suitable work.




Qualifying for Benefits

UC Handbook home page

Payment of Benefits