How Long Before Receiving Pennsylvania Unemployment Benefits?

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In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor sends each applicant a “Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Handbook” after an applicant files an application for unemployment compensation. The department immediately begins processing each application and sends eligible applicants benefit checks for amount between $35 and $573, plus up to $8 in weekly benefits for dependents -- effective for claims filed after January 2, 2011.

First Benefit Payment

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, eligible applicants generally receive their first payment check within four weeks of applying. Pennsylvania law requires that all claimants serve a waiting week before receiving benefits. The first waiting week is an unpaid seven days of claims processing. As such, the first benefit check will only contain one week of unemployment benefits. To continue receiving benefits, claimants must file biweekly claims.

Read More: NYS Unemployment Benefits

When to File

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry requires that applicants file their biweekly claims during the week, Sunday through Friday, immediately after the two weeks an applicant is claiming benefits. For example, an applicant claiming benefits for the first two weeks of June must file a benefit claim within the Sunday through Friday period during the third week of June. The department sends all claimants a “Claim Confirmation Letter” notifying them of when to file their first claims. Applicants must continue filing their biweekly claims in a timely manner to receive further benefits.

Financial Eligibility

Once an applicant files for unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania, the commonwealth sends him a “Claim Confirmation Letter” confirming receipt of the application. Pennsylvania determines financial eligibility by reviewing each applicant’s total wages earned during a base period of employment. If an applicant is financially eligible for benefits, the Department of Labor and Industry confirms he meets the other eligibility conditions for receiving unemployment benefits. Although the department determines eligibility based on several factors, an applicant is ineligible for unemployment benefits if he earns less than $800 in wages during his highest quarterly wage period within the last four of five quarters before filing.

Other Eligibility Rules

In addition to ascertaining financial eligibility, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry verifies each applicant’s work history. Applicants must be unemployed through no fault of their own. The department denies benefits to applicants who are partially or completely unemployed for intentionally violating their employers’ policies, excessive absenteeism or tardiness, or voluntarily resigning without valid reason, such as for medical reasons. Once the department determines eligibility, it requires certification from each applicant attesting to ongoing work searches and availability to work.


Since state laws can frequently change, do not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in your state.

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