HARRISBURG – As more than 1.2 million Pennsylvanians file Unemployment Compensation claims during the COVID-19 public health emergency, Senator David J. Arnold is working to ensure information and resources are available to help community residents who have been affected by this crisis.
The Department of Labor and Industry recently created a new website to provide updates on the state’s efforts to implement the provisions of the federal CARES Act, which provides additional benefits to claimants, extends benefits over a longer period of time, and provides assistance to self-employed individuals, gig workers and others who do not traditionally qualify for unemployment benefits.
According to the department, expanded unemployment benefits of $600 per week will go out to claimants beginning for the week ending April 4. Eligible claimants who received their regular unemployment payment for that week should expect to see the money by Wednesday. Claimants who have not yet received a payment will start receiving the extra $600 the week after receiving their first payment.
The CARES Act also temporarily makes benefits available to other individuals who are not normally eligible, such as self-employed workers, independent contractors and gig workers. These individuals cannot apply through the current unemployment system; a new platform is being created 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 page.
The spike in the number of applicants in the system has created longer response times and a large backlog of cases in the Unemployment Compensation 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 at www.uc.pa.gov.
Senator Arnold said that 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.
Individuals who have questions or problems that are not covered on the department’s website are encouraged to contact Senator Arnold’s office for assistance.
In order to streamline the process and avoid more delays for claimants, Senator Arnold supported a bill that was signed into law recently which provides for emergency changes to the state’s Unemployment Compensation law. The law waives the one-week waiting period for all claimants to receive benefits during the governor’s disaster declaration, as well as job search and registration requirements for claimants.
CONTACT: Greg Moreland