HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The state has received a record number of unemployment claims in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Due to the record number, the site to file them crashed Monday and did the same on Sunday. Officials say to be patient, and the best way is to still file them online versus over the phone.
There have been 834,680 new claims since March 15th in Pennsylvania, more than the state has ever seen.
“We’ve waived some work requirements and waived some signing requirements and we’ve done away with the wait week at the state level,” said Jerry Oleksiak, Pennsylvania Secretary of Labor and Industry.
They’ve also added more staff. Right now we’re told, there is no lag time for receiving benefits. You should expect to get your first payment within about four weeks of filing for the first time. After that it should only take two to three days. However, officials warn that timeframe could change as early as this week with the record number of claims.
“We are certainly not going to hold anyone accountable for missing a deadline just because they couldn’t reach us. At the time that they do reach us, we will certainly back date their claim to the first week that they were unemployed,” said Susan Dickinson, Pennsylvania Director of Unemployment Compensation Benefits Policy.
The same applies if you receive your PIN late, which you need to file. You also have to be jobless when you file, so you should file your claim, the week that you’re unemployed, and then biweekly after that.
“There are other programs in the works signed by the Federal CARES Act on Friday and our Governor signed the agreement on Saturday, so we are putting new federal programs together. Right now, we don’t have a lot of the details,” said Dickinson.
You may qualify for unemployment benefits if you’re part-time or seasonal. The best thing to do is apply, and officials will then determine your eligibility.
Another contributing factor for the high amount of claims, according to state officials: Pennsylvania has no mandatory paid sick leave.