Communities throughout the United States are experiencing unprecedented unemployment levels during the COVID-19 pandemic. People have been blindsided with layoffs and furloughs from employment. Many of these individuals are in critical need of unemployment compensation to get through this crisis.

While the prospect of applying for benefits may appear to be arduous, it is doable. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) suggests filing a claim through the Office of Unemployment Compensation Website. You may still apply by phone if you do not have access to the website.

Through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the time to file an unemployment compensation claim has been extended; however, you should apply immediately. The website, Career One Stop, provides additional resources regarding COVID-19 unemployment insurance information for all 50 states.

The CARES Act also provides claimants with $600.00 per week of additional benefits between March 29, 2020 and July 31, 2020. The added funds will be applied retroactively once L&I updates its system to include the modified benefits. The CARES Act expands unemployment benefits to many claimants who were formerly ineligible, self-employed individuals and gig workers. You could be eligible for benefits under the CARES Act if, due to COVID-19:

  1. Your employer reduces your hours;
  2. Your employer temporarily closes or goes out of business;
  3. You have been told to quarantine or self-isolate, or you live or work in a county that has instituted preventative measures; or
  4. You were told not to work to avoid spreading or getting the virus.

Once it is determined that you are eligible for benefits will receive a determination letter and PIN in the mail. A denial of benefits can be appealed.

The application process will take longer than it did in the past. Try not to be discouraged. The Unemployment Office continues to receive, review and process applications.