• Kirstin Kennedy

Here's How to Know if You Qualify for UC Benefits

For many, the stress of losing a job is accompanied by a plaguing question – will I qualify for unemployment compensation benefits?

It can be difficult to navigate the seemingly endless lists of requirements when you sit down to decide whether or not you should apply to receive benefits. The good news is that this guide can help you determine exactly what to do as you begin the process.


Unless it is abundantly clear that you do not qualify, it never hurts to apply for benefits.



Unemployment is generally offered only to those who lost their employment by no fault of their own. With that said, there are several exceptions and general standards that allow individuals to collect benefits. There are three factors that are used to determine and maintain eligibility: financial eligibility, benefit eligibility, and eligibility maintenance.


In terms of financial eligibility, the unemployment compensation board will consider the wages you earned during your employment to both decide whether you qualify and, if you do, to determine the rate of benefits that you will receive. Essentially, you need to have earned a certain amount of money during your employment in order to qualify for benefits. The board will look to what is called your credit week requirements. In order to qualify, you must have earned $116 or more in a given week to receive benefits.


Additionally, if your income came through work as an independent contractors or self-employment, you may be barred from receiving unemployment benefits. The Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Department defines a worker as self-employed in cases where the applicant “has been and will continue to be free from control or direction over the performance of his or her service” and the services he or she provides are “customarily” an “independently established” position.


Benefit eligibility is based on the nature of your employment termination. This will generally be determined after you and your former employer provide an interview to the department. If you are found ineligible, it may be because your termination was the result of several disqualifying factors, including a discharge for willful misconduct, violating a rule, poor work performance, failing a drug or alcohol test, missing work or coming in late without an excuse, damaging property, or having an unappealing attitude.


The third and final element relates to the action that you take while receiving unemployment. You must both register for the employment search services and fulfill weekly requirements. This will both help you to find reliable employment and ensure that you receive benefits throughout your job search.


In the end, it doesn’t hurt to apply for benefits. If you are denied, and you believe the department made an error in determining your eligibility, you are able to appeal the decision.

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