UC and PUA: Frequently Asked Questions

Unemployment Compensation (UC) FAQ

I still have not received a PIN number, what should I do?

If you submitted your initial application for UC benefits over three weeks ago and have not received a PIN number in the mail, you should request a new one using this form.

Please note, if you are able to use the PIN number from a previous UC claim if you have one.

I've been filing my biweekly claims for weeks but have not received any payment, where is my money?

Payments are taking a long time to process, so it may just be a delay by the state in processing your benefits.

However, there are a few other potential causes of non-payment:

  • You may not be financially eligible for benefits based on when you applied.  Some people have not been timely receiving the notice that informs them they are ineligible.  To get an idea about financial eligibility, check our flowchart and the Department of Labor and Industry's description of financial eligibility
  • The state is evaluating your separation from employment.  This is most likely the case if you had voluntarily left your job or were discharged by your employer.
  • Your benefits are being offset due to a previous overpayment.  You can check whether you have a UC overpayment here.

When I tried to file my biweekly claim, it said my claim was inactive, what should I do?

You will need to "re-open" your unemployment claim, see this page for instructions.  This will feel similar to filing a new application all over again. After you re-open, you should check back the next day and your weeks should be available to file biweekly claims.

If you had previously done this, but still saw "inactive" every time you tried to file, go back and try to file a biweekly claim again.  The Department has made a change and all previous re-opens should now be processed.

I was found financially ineligible for my March application, what should I do?

You have three options, which we have explained in detail here.

I received my Notice of Financial Determination after the appeal deadline had passed, can I still appeal?

Yes.  There was a mailing issue with the Notices and the Department will consider your appeal even if it was late.  We recommend holding onto the envelope with the postmark date.  To determine whether you should appeal, check out our flowchart.

To file an appeal, claimants should email UCAPPEALS@PA.GOV and include the following information:

  • Full name and mailing address
  • The last four digits of their social security number (xxx-xx-1234)
  • A brief statement explaining why they disagree with the determination and believe they should be eligible
  • Attach any paystubs or other evidence of missing wages to the email

What do I need to report in my biweekly filings? 

When you file your biweekly claim, you will be asked whether you worked and whether you had earnings. If you worked, you must report your gross earnings (pre-tax) for work performed each week. You are required to report wages when they are earned, regardless of when you are actually paid the money.  You are required to report all earnings, even if you worked in another state other than PA.

If you’re unsure of what your gross earnings should be, the easiest way to calculate for filing is to multiply the number of hours you worked during the week by your rate of pay. 

If you worked reduced hours you may still be eligible for partial UC benefits.

You are also required to report any vacation pay or other PTO that you receive (unless the pay was loaned by the employer and will need to be earned later/paid back).

What do I need to do to qualify for the extra $600 a week?

Nothing, the additional $600 a week (PUC) is automatic.  The state has been slowly processing these payments.  You will receive a lump sum "backpay" for every week you filed for, starting with the week ending April 4, when you receive the first PUC payment.  After that, you will receive your regular UC payments the week you file your biweekly claim, and you will receive another $1200 payment (twice the PUC) the following week.

I am not a U.S Citizen, can I qualify for Pennsylvania unemployment?

Workers who are legally authorized to work in the United States can qualify for Pennsylvania unemployment compensation or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.  The state will require you to submit copies/photos of your documentation.  

Also, unemployment benefits are not considered in the public charge analysis, they are not a form of cash assistance and will not affect your immigration status.

I think I have a UC overpayment, how is that going to affect my benefits?

Overpayments can have various consequences on your current claim for UC benefits.  Find more information on our overpayments page.

I've made the majorty of my income driving for Uber or Lyft,  should I apply for UC?

No.  Gig workers are specifically covered by the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program and you should apply for benefits through that.  If you already applied for UC, that's okay, that application will be denied because you will not be financially eligible.  Go ahead and file a new application for PUA.

How do I get the 13 week extension of my UC benefits?

Pandemic Unemployment Emergency Compensation (known as the 13 week extension of UC benefits) is now available.  

If you have a current, open claim year (meaning you filed your initial application for UC within the last year), you can simply go to the UC website and should be able to file all the biweekly claims going back to the week ending April 4, 2020 (when the extension went into effect).  You must go in and file all your biweekly claims by 9pm on Friday, June 12.  You will receive two lump sum payments:  one for the back UC benefits and one for the back PUC (the $600) payments.  Then you should continue to regularly file biweekly claims and you will receive your UC payment within a few days of filing and then a PUC payment of $1200 the following week.  

If you exhausted your UC benefits after July 1, 2019 and your claim year has ended, you need to file a PEUC application online.  Claimants with an open claim year should not file this application.

I received all 13 weeks of my PEUC, is there any other benefit available to me?

Yes.  If a claimant has now also exhausted their PEUC eligibility, there is a new state UC program called "Extended Benefits (EB)" that will provide up to 13 weeks of additional eligibility.  The government will automatically add these benefits to your account.  

If your claims has moved from PEUC to EB,  the UC website will say your claim is inactive, but you can ignore that as long as you see the "File an EB claim" button at the bottom of the screen. 

There are two differences about filing for EB benefits:

  1. You cannot file through the automated PAT telephone system, only online.  The government will mail you a paper application that you can mail back if you are unable to file online.
  2. When you login to file your biweekly claim, your account will say it is inactive.  You need to click the “File an EB claim” button at the bottom of the screen to file.

If you require legal assistance with your unemployment claim and are a Philadephia resident, please review our intake procedures.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) FAQ

Am I eligible for PUA?

PUA is intended to provide coverage for a large group of workers who have not traditionally been covered by Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation.  If you have been denied regular unemployment compensation, or believe you would not be eligible, then you should qualify for PUA.

This includes independent contractors, self-employed individuals, and gig workers.  PUA will also cover workers who were employed by religiously affiliated organizations that do not pay UC taxes, and were therefore not eligible for regular UC.

For workers who did not have sufficient work history to qualify for regular UC, or who whose work was too recent to show up on a financial determination, PUA will cover them as well.

PUA can also provide additional benefits for workers who exhausted their right to regular UC benefits after the 13 week extension.  This will mostly apply to workers who lost their employment pre-Covid19.

Main takeaway: if you cannot get regular UC, then you should be eligible for PUA. 

Where can I apply?

You can apply on the new PUA website and click on the "File a PUA claim" button.

I've been waiting a long time for benefits, will I get back benefits for all the time that has passed?

You can request PUA back to the date you lost your job.  PUA is retroactive to January 27, 2020 and you are eligible as of the day you lost your work, had your income reduced, or closed your business due to Covid19.  So if you lost your job on March 16, you can request benefits back to that week.

It does not matter when you file your PUA application, you can still get benefits to cover all the weeks you have been out of work.

How much will I  get per week?

Everyone who receives PUA will get at least $195 a week.  If you provide documentation of your income from 2019, you can qualify for up to $572 per week.  But even if you do not have documented proof of earnings for 2019, you will still qualify for $195.

From April through July you will also automatically qualify for the extra $600 per week, called Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.

Similar to regular UC, when you file a weekly claim you must report any income you earned during that week.  It may offset part of your benefits, but you are required to report it.

I was unable to upload documents with my application, what should I do?

You can now upload documents in the PUA portal. You will not be denied benefits or harmed because you did not initially include documents with your application.  In fact, even if you are never able to provide documentation of your income, you will still qualify for the base rate of $195 per week.

Some document types recommended by the Department for establishing 2019 income include (not an exclusive list):

  • tax returns;
  • paycheck stubs;
  • bank receipts;
  • ledgers;
  • contracts;
  • invoices; and/or
  • billing statements.

The system accepts documents in PDF or Word document form, or as photos.

Do I file biweekly claims for regular UC to receive my PUA payments?

No. If you are eligible for PUA you should stop interacting with the regular UC system. Even if you received a PIN number from your original UC in the mail, you should ignore that.  To receive PUA you must file weekly certifications in the PUA portal using the username and password you set up during your initial application. 

Do I need to wait for a PIN number in the mail to file?

No. Unlike regular UC, there is no PIN number for PUA claims.  Instead, you are able to login using the username and password you created during the PUA application. If the system is asking you for a PIN number, you are logged into the wrong website.

The PUA system will not let me sign back in after I filed my application, do I need to file a new application?

No.  There are many technology glitches with this system that need to be worked out.  If you filed a PUA application and are now unable to get back into the system, just wait.  Do not file a new application.  Similarly, do not worry if you did not receive a confirmation email.  The PUA system does not send confirmation emails after someone files an application.

How do I find out my Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA)?

There is a place to see claim status and benefit amounts in the PUA portal.  Additionally, all PUA claimants should have received a message in their PUA portal that provided a PDF of their Monetary Determination.  The WBA is included at the end of the first paragraph of the determination.

If you are confused by the Monetary Determination, see our version with notes here.

For example, a lot of people are confused by the paragraph that talks about insufficient income and mentions a weekly benefit rate of $195 -- that paragraph is in every determination and is just attempting to explain why someone who shows $0 in come would still be eligible for $195.

Finally, the Monetary Determination does not mention the extra $600.  The $600 is automatically added to your weekly benefit amount for April through July.

I disagree with my Weekly Benefit Amount and think it should be higher, what should I do? 

PUA claimants can request a redetermination of the weekly benefit amount at any time before the program ends in December 2020.  If you are found to be eligible for a higher rate, you will receive the difference in back benefits after the new determination is issued.

For instructions on how to undertand weekly benefit rates and how to request a redetermination, check out: PLA's Guide To Challenging Your PUA Weekly Benefit Amount

Can I get both UC and PUA at the same time?

No, you can only receive benefits through one program at a time.  If you qualify for regular UC, you must go through that program.  Only if you are not eligible for UC can you receive PUA.  So even if you lost a W2 job and a side business, you can only receive regular UC.

I have a full time W2 job but I am no longer making money through my side business, am I eligible for PUA?

No.  Both regular UC and PUA are for those individuals who are unemployed or partially unemployed.  If you are still fully employed in W2 employment, you are not eligible for PUA.  PUA will not provide benefits to individuals to supplement the loss of income from a side business.

I am seeing lots of conflicting information about filing weekly certifications, what information should I report?

We have an entire webpage devoted to information about filing weekly certification for PUA benefits.

When I tried to file my PUA weekly certification the system told me to file a UC claim, what do I do?

If the PUA system told you to file a regular unemployment compensation claim, you must follow that instruction, even if you believe you are not eligible for UC or were previously found ineligible for UC.

On July 5, the unemployment system switched to the 3rd quarter of 2020. This means that the government will now consider W-2 income from the time period of April 2019 - March 2020 when evaluating financial eligibility for all new regular UC claims filed on or after July 5.

This means that many PUA applicants who could not collect regular UC because they were financially ineligible (meaning you had not earned enough wages to qualify) may now be eligible for UC.

If you are eligible for UC, you must collect UC instead of PUA.  That is what the law requires.

Even if you do not think you will be eligible for UC, or you are self-employed with W-2 wages, you must still go file a UC claim. The PUA system will not let you through again until there is a new determination finding you ineligible for regular UC.  There is nothing we can do at Philadelphia Legal Assistance to change that.

After you apply for a regular UC claim, you should follow the instructions on your confirmation email or letter and begin filing biweekly claims on the regular UC system.  If you do not already have one, you will receive a PIN number in the mail to use for filing biweekly UC claims.  

You will be able to use direct deposit if you are eligible for regular UC.  If you choose to use a debit card, you will be able to use the same one sent to you for your PUA benefits.

There will be a delay before you start receiving UC benefits.  However, you will still receive the extra $600 for every week through July 25, 2020.

You can also find more information about PUA here.