Rep. Mizgorski shares useful tips for applying for Unemployment Compensation
Friday, April 17, 2020 | 10:31 AM
As we work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 across Pennsylvania we are experiencing a time of great uncertainty and anxiety about our current situation, as well as the future. My district office in Allison Park has been receiving many phone calls and emails from constituents applying for unemployment compensation.
More than 1.4 million unemployment claims have been filed in recent weeks. The surge in claims has placed a strain on the state unemployment system, where staffing levels reflected the historically low unemployment rate before the coronavirus pandemic reached the United States. To address the situation, seventy retired employees have been called back into service, employees from other state agencies and bureaus have temporarily transferred and new employees are being hired. Working three shifts a day, seven days a week, more than $758,000,000 dollars in benefits have already been paid. I know this information does not provide consolation to those whose claims have not been processed yet, so I am sharing some useful tips for filing for unemployment compensation.
File only once: Whether a brand-new claim or a reopened claim, filing the initial claim application more than one time slows down the process for the individual filer, as well as other claimants, as it requires additional staff time to identify duplicate claims.
Personal information: Ensure identification information is exactly as it appears on the individual’s social security card. The claimant’s name, birth date and social security number must exactly match the federal system when verified. If the information does not match, the claim will be held until staff is able to review it manually. PINs are not mailed until identity issues are resolved.
Reason for Separation: If the employer does not have work available, it is “lack or work” or “laid off.” DO NOT select “Plant Closed,” “Other,” or “Still Employed.” These selections will delay claim processing for further investigation. If the claimant was fired or quit, select the appropriate reason.
Return to work date: It is best to leave this blank because COVID-19 mitigation efforts are continually changing.
Workers Compensation: This is not the same as unemployment compensation. This only pertains to a person being injured at work and receiving Workers’ Compensation payments because of that injury. The answer will usually be “NO.”
Work as a Federal Civilian: The federal government does not report wages to Pennsylvania. If the claimant is a federal employee, the PA Department of Labor and Industry will only reach out to the federal agency to obtain wages for the financial determination if the claimant answers “Yes” to this question. The highest volume of federal civilians in PA worked for the United States Postal Service and the Internal Revenue Service.
Email once. Don’t call: If you need assistance, email email@example.com. Please email only once. Emails are processed oldest to newest. Sending multiple emails will slow down processing. It may take up to ten business days to receive a reply. Check your claim status online every day at www.uc.pa.gov.
Live Chat Works: If you know how to “Live Chat,” use this feature on the UC website. Unemployment Compensation Chat Agents are available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (I recommended the “chat” feature to my husband, and an agent responded to his request within minutes.) When using the chat feature, do NOT disclose any personal information, including but not limited to, personal identification number (PIN), full social security number, debit card numbers or direct deposit information, in order to safeguard confidential information and to protect your identity. The department will NEVER contact you by chat to request your full social security number. You may be asked for the last four numbers only. If the department requires personally identifiable information in order to respond to your chat question, you will be directed to contact them by phone or email.
Answer when called: To ensure claimants and their mobile phone carriers do not disregard or block calls from the Department of Labor and Industry, enter the Unemployment Compensation Service Center number into your phone contacts: 888-313-7284
If you need assistance with or have questions about state-related issues, please call my district office at 412-487-6605, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., or visit RepMizgorski.com. With patience and perseverance, we will all get through this difficult time. Please remember to stay safe and practice social distancing.