How to Apply Online for Unemployment Benefits in Pennsylvania
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How to Apply Online for Unemployment Benefits in Pennsylvania

Unemployment compensation provides the laid off worker with temporary payments. Apply online for your uc benefits.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is lower than it was at the beginning of the year but is once again increasing. As of June 2011, 7.6 percent of the workforce in Pennsylvania was unemployed. April and May enjoyed marginally lower percentages. Keep in mind that these statistics, provided by the US Department of Labor, are just people applying for benefits. The government does not record those who do not apply or those who simply do not work due to life choice or schooling. Housewives, for example, are not unemployed; they are simply not paid.

Unemployment compensation (UC) provides the laid off worker with temporary payments. These payments are derived from the taxes that the worker has been paying over time. There are some stipulations to receiving UC. The worker must have been laid off through no fault of his or her own. In other words, one cannot be fired. A lay off due to lack of work or a position being deleted definitely counts though.

Do you qualify?

To qualify for UC benefits, you must have been laid off from your employer. You must be able to work and willing to do so. Finally, you must qualify financially. This means you had to have paid in – through your taxes – in order to get out. So, if you worked under the table for your aunt’s fruit stand – just an example – and she never took taxes out, then you never paid into the system. You would not be eligible to receive benefits. However, if you went to work everyday and punched the time clock and taxes were taken out, then you may financially qualify. Your determination is dependant upon the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters prior to filing.

Applying Online in Pennsylvania

Go to the state’s website: Mouse over “Online Services” in the top right of the page. Scroll down to “Unemployment Compensation.” Your choices are now on the right side of the page. Choose “File an Initial Claim.” Choose English or Spanish. These are the only two languages available online. If you need another language or a translator, you should call 888-313-7284 and apply by phone. Type in your social security number twice and click submit. Follow through the application, entering your vitals and specific information.

Information You Will Need

In order to apply online, you will need the name and address of your employers for the last 18 months. You will be asked the first day of work there and the last day. The last day should be on your separation letter from your employer. You will also need your social security number, your PA Driver’s License number – or PA government issued identification number. If you have a pension, you will also need that information.


Even though you apply through the state, the taxes are federal taxes only. They are also optional at this point. This means you can either elect to pay taxes as you get the money or in the spring when you file next year’s taxes. If you elect to have taxes pulled, they will equal 10% (as of 1 August 2011) of your benefit check.

Getting Paid

UC benefit checks are no longer actual checks. You may elect to have the payments directly deposited into your checking or savings account. If you do not elect direct deposit, then you will receive a Pennsylvania Debit MasterCard Card. The card is valid for three years. Within that three year period another card will not be issued if you receive additional benefits at a later date. Keep your card in a safe place.

Note: The above information is specific to Pennsylvania. Other states may have other restrictions or requirements.


PA Dept. of Labor & Industry

US Dept. of Labor


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