Information and Resources Available on Unemployment Comp Benefits

As more than 1.2 million Pennsylvanians file Unemployment Compensation claims during the COVID-19 public health emergency, Senator Dan Laughlin 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

 Responding to concerns raised by many of his constituents, Senator Laughlin sent a letter to state Secretary of Labor & Industry Jerry Oleksiak requesting details on his Department’s efforts to respond to calls from workers idled by the COVID-19 outbreak and to expedite unemployment compensation claims

“My office has been inundated with calls from constituents who have experienced problems with getting through to the unemployment office. This cannot continue. Government agencies that our citizens rely on cannot afford to stumble in times of crisis,” Senator Laughlin wrote. “I know that you take this seriously, and I want you to know that my office is here to help in any way we can.”

Senator Laughlin 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.

In order to streamline the process and avoid more delays for claimants, Senator Laughlin supported a new law 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:         Matt Azeles       

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