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Unemployment Compensation Details

Impact & Advocacy , Local Stories , Chamber Updates
April 15 2020

Updated on 4/18

We wanted to share a digestible guide to Unemployment Compensation. Thank you to our PA Elected Officials for the information you will find below in this guide. 


NEW Information Available For Sole Proprietors and Gig Workers For Pennsylvania's Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program provides up to 39 weeks of benefits to qualifying individuals who are otherwise able to work and available for work within the meaning of applicable state law, except that they are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to COVID-19 related reasons, as defined in the CARES Act. Benefit payments under PUA are retroactive, for weeks of unemployment, partial employment, or inability to work due to COVID-19 reasons starting on or after January 27, 2020. The CARES Act specifies that PUA benefits cannot be paid for weeks of unemployment ending after December 31, 2020.

Pennsylvanians who meet eligibility requirements are strongly encouraged to begin gathering the information they will need to file an accurate claim and receive benefits quickly.

Who Should File for PUA

Eligible individuals who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19, including:

  • Self-employed;
  • Independent contractors;
  • Gig workers;
  • People without sufficient work history to qualify for regular UC; and
  • People who have exhausted regular UC or extended benefits.

PUA Benefits

In general, PUA:

  • Provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits;
  • May not be more than the state’s maximum weekly benefit rate for regular UC of $572;
  • May not be less than half of the state’s average weekly benefit amount of $195.
  • Payments will be backdated to January 27, 2020 or the first week you were unable to work due to COVID-19 (whichever of the two dates is later); and
  • Benefits will end December 31, 2020.

Information Needed for Proof of Employment or Self-employment

Acceptable documentation can include, but is not limited to:

  • Copies of recent paycheck stubs;
  • Bank receipts showing deposits;
  • 1099s;
  • Billing notices provided to your customers;
  • Recent advertisements for your business or services;
  • Statements from recent customers;
  • Current business licenses, ledgers, contracts, invoices; and/or
  • Building leases.

Information Needed to Show Previous Income

Acceptable documentation of wages can include, but is not limited to:

  • Tax returns;
  • Paycheck stubs;
  • Bank receipts;
  • Ledgers;
  • Contracts;
  • Invoices; and/or
  • Billing statements.

Additional $600 Per Week  

Individuals collecting PUA benefits will also eligible for the extra $600 per week from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program. The additional payments will be:

Effective from the week ending April 4, 2020 through the week ending July 25, 2020;

Backdated and paid in one lump sum; and

Automatic – you don’t need to do anything to receive the extra dollars.

Learn More

Additional COVID-19 information from L&I:

PUA frequently asked questions

L&I COVID-19 Info for Workers and Businesses

Unemployment compensation

Frequently asked questions

Information Available for Claimants Struggling With Unemployment Compensation System 

Due to the spike in the number of applicants in the Unemployment Compensation system, it has created longer response times and a large backlog of cases that sometimes take weeks to resolve. A number of services are available online to help resolve some questions regarding the system:

  • Claimants can check the status of their application online, find answers to frequently asked questions and read tips on how to file an initial claim and more at
  • Claimants who have filed an initial claim in mid-March who have not received a PIN should contact the Department of Labor and Industry as soon as possible. The same guidance applies to individuals who tried to re-open an existing claim in mid-March and are still listed as “inactive” when they try to file a bi-weekly claim.
  • If you meet one of these criteria or have other questions or problems that are not covered on the department’s website, please feel free to contact Heather Valudes ( for assistance.

Expanded Unemployment Benefit Payments Begin This Week

  • The federal CARES Act provides expanded unemployment benefits of $600 per week to eligible claimants. These payments are in addition to regular benefits provided through the unemployment system. The Department of Labor and Industry reports that these payments should arrive by Wednesday of this week for eligible claimants who received their regular payments for the week ending April 4.
  • Claimants who have not yet received a payment will receive the extra $600 per week in the days following receipt of their first payment. An additional 13 weeks of benefits will be available to claimants who have been affected by the pandemic.
  • More information on the state’s efforts to implement the provisions of the CARES Act is available on a new websitecreated by the Department of Labor and Industry.

Benefits Available Soon for Contractors, Self-Employed Workers

  • The CARES Act temporarily makes benefits available to other individuals who are not normally eligible, such as people who are self-employed, independent contractors and gig workers. However, these individuals cannot apply through the current unemployment system; the federal government requires the state to create a new platform to provide these benefits.
  • The Department of Labor and Industry expects to have the new system up and running within the next two weeks. Claimants will be able to receive backdated payments to January 27 or the first week that they were unable to work due to the coronavirus, whichever is later. More information about the new program is available on the department’s frequently asked questions

Updates on Contacting the Unemployment Compensation Office

  • Phone hours to 8am to 4pm starting tomorrow. Next week they will be increasing our chat hours as well. Stay tuned!
  • We are updating her questions every week based on people’s feedback. Call the Unemployment Compensation Virtual Assistant at 877-978-1295for answers to your frequently asked questions.

Businesses are encouraged to sign-up for the state elected official email updates to receive up-to-date information on the unemployment compensation system and process.

Continue to visit for information related to COVID-19. 

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Tel: (717) 397-3531
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