Unemployment Compensation and COVID-19

Image shows an unemployment compensation form and black pen.

This page will be updated with information about how COVID-19 impacts unemployment benefits.

Last updated: December 28, 2020.

Unemployment compensation can put cash in your pocket when you have lost your job through no fault of your own. If you are out of work or are losing hours because of coronavirus, you may qualify for Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation.

If any of the following have happened to you at work because of the coronavirus pandemic or its impact:

  • Your hours been reduced because of the public health crisis
  • You have you been temporarily laid off or has your workplace closed
  • You were you sent home from work due to minor symptoms related to coronavirus
  • Your work was interrupted because you need to care for a family member
  • You were fired when you refused to work in unsafe conditions
  • You quit to avoid unsafe conditions

If you are eligible for unemployment benefits, you will automatically be eligible for an additional $600 per week benefit under the CARES Act from April 2020 through July 2020.

Check out our Frequently Asked Questions page about both regular Unemployment Compensation and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance as well as our UC Highlights presentation here.

COVID Relief Bill Passed on December 28, 2020

Congress extended PUA and PEUC and granted an extra $300 weekly in benefits for anyone getting UC, PEUC, EB, or PUA until March 13, 2021. Questions about how the new bill affects your benefits? Click here to read our FAQ about the COVID Relief Bill passed on December 28, 2021.

Apply for Unemployment Compensation!

Below is a video from the Department of Labor and Industry that walks you through the application:

We recommend applying at www.uc.pa.gov. You can also call the statewide number at 1-888-313-7284. Please note, it may be difficult to reach UC by telephone during high volume times.

For a step by step guide to the UC application created by the Department of Labor and Industry go here.

After you open an unemployment claim, every two weeks you must file a claim at www.uc.pa.gov or by calling 888-255-4728 and

  • Report any hours you worked
  • Report any PTO you received
  • Report any pay you earned

We recommend reaching UC with questions using their online chat system at www.uc.pa.gov

The PA Department of Labor and Industry is providing updates about the Covid-19 pandemic which can be found here.

If you need additional legal help or are denied benefits for any reason, please contact Philadelphia Legal Assistance and we may be able to offer you free legal representation. We offer 24/7 online intake at philalegal.org/apply and telephone intake Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to noon at 215-981-3800.

When does Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation End?

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) ends on March 13, 2021. If you are receiving regular UC and PEUC ends, your claim should be automatically switched to the Extended Benefits (EB) program.

You might experience a delay getting your Extended Benefits (EB) when PEUC ends. You should file biweekly claims for Extended Benefits as soon as PEUC ends or you run out of PEUC benefits.

Have You Been Waiting for the 13 Week Extension of UC Benefits?

Benefits are available for claimants who exhausted their UC benefits under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program (known as the 13 week extension of UC benefits).

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.  However, there is a technology glitch with the system and many claimants are seeing that their claim is inactive.  This glitch is currently being fixed, claimants should check back again in a few days if their claim is inactive.  You will receive the extra $600 per week just like normal UC.

If you 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.

If a claimant has now also exhausted their PEUC eligibility, there is a new state UC program called "Extended Benefits" that will provide additional weeks of eligibility.

How Do I File for Extended Benefits (EB)?

If your claims has moved from PEUC to EB, you need to make sure you click the "File an EB claim" on the UC website when you go in to file your biweekly claim.  The website will say your claim is inactive, but you can ignore that as long as you see the "File an EB claim" button and are able to file your claim there.

Have You Recently Applied for Regular UC Benefits But Weren't Financially Eligible?

There are many reasons why someone may be denied based on their financial eligibility, but don't lose hope for your claim. You may still be eligible to get benefits if you take affirmative steps after receiving a denial of finanical eligibility. Use following flow chart to help determine what might be your best course of action: COVID-19 Financial Eligibility Flowchart. (Available in English, Spanish, and Simplified Chinese.)  

If you received a Notice of Financial Determination in the mail after the appeal date has already passed, you can still appeal.  The Department has had problems with mailing these notices and will consider your appeal even if it is after the deadline.

Think You Are Not Eligible for UC Benefits?  Think Again!

In response to Covid19, a new unemployment benefit program, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is available to workers who are not eligible for regular Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation (UC) (Information available in English and Spanish). 

You can find Frequently Asked Questions about UC and PUA here.

You can find information about how to file Weekly Certifications for PUA here.

Have a UC Overpayment?  Check out our FAQs on Overpayments and Covid19

Many people are discovering they have UC overpayments they never knew about or are struggling to receive benefits due to overpayments.  We have created an entire page about overpayments.

Resources for Employees Applying for Unemployment Compensation Due to the Coronavirus Crisis

General Information about Applying for Unemployment Compensation in PA (Available in English, Spanish, and Simplified Chinese).

Flow chart on selecting your "reason for separation" in unemployment compensation applications (Available in English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, and Vietnamese).

Immigration Status and Applying for Unmployment Compensation (Available in English, Spanish, and Simplified Chinese): Frequently Asked Questions 

If you applied to Unemployment Compensation and were denied, learn how to appeal the denial (Available in English and Spanish).

Frequent questions about unemployment compensation from independent contractors, gig economy workers, and folks who their own business (Available in English, Spanish, and Simplified Chinese).

Common Mistakes and Misinformation from Employers (Available in English, Spanish, and Simplified Chinese).