Tips for first-time unemployment filers


A record-breaking number of Americans are filing for unemployment during the coronavirus pandemic, Pennsylvania is being hit with this hard too. Now many are facing the daunting task of filing for the first time.

The first thing you need to do once you’re out of a job is to contact the State’s Office of Unemployment Compensation. You’ll be asked for information like the dates you were employed, that is if you can get through, phone lines are very busy.

“We know it’s frustrating for people when they have wait times or they have difficulties getting through but we’re doing all we can. We ask people to be patient as much as possible use the website to apply,” Secretary of Labor and Industry, Jerry Oleksiak said.

Don’t worry the department won’t penalize anyone for missing a deadline because of being on hold, they will backdate any payments. After you file your claim, one of the things that confuses people is how the process actually works. Don’t expect the money upfront. Think of it like a paycheck. You work for two weeks, you fill in your timesheet, and you receive payment for your work after that.
Unemployment works the same way.

“You’re going to open your claim with us but you don’t get paid right away, you are then unemployed for two weeks you call or go online is the better way to file your continued claim with us or biweekly claim, and what that means is you’re certifying you have been unemployed the last two weeks, once you tell us you’ve been unemployed for two weeks we go ahead and submit the claim for you and you get that in a couple of days,” said Susan Dickinson, Director of Unemployment Compensation Benefits Policy.

Then you will need to file every two weeks. So how much will you get?

Normal unemployment is about half your paycheck, the most the state will pay is $572 per week.

The recently passed $2 trillion economic stimulus package has also allowed more Americans to qualify for benefits. If you aren’t sure if you are eligible don’t waste time trying to call them to figure it out, just apply. They will determine if you’re eligible.

For more information about filing for unemployment visit

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