Erie Unemployment Lawyers Help Workers Understand and Obtain Unemployment Benefits in the Wake of COVID-19

In March of 2020, the unemployment rate in the United States was near a ten-year low at 4.4 percent. However, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the impact it took on the economy, the national unemployment rate in April skyrocketed up to 14.7 percent. In May and June, the unemployment rate decreased slightly to 13.3 percent, and 11.1 percent, respectively. In Pennsylvania specifically, the unemployment rate was decreasing steadily from about nine percent in 2010 to a low of 4.1 percent in April of 2029. However, 2020 marked the most significant jump in the Pennsylvania unemployment rate in recent history, with over 16 percent of Pennsylvania workers filing for unemployment in April 2020.

At the law firm of Melaragno, Placidi & Parini, we help employees who lost their job due to COVID-19-related reasons obtain the benefits they need, deserve and are entitled to. In response to the pandemic, state and federal lawmakers implemented significant changes to the unemployment compensation program. At Melaragno, Placidi & Parini, our team of experienced Erie unemployment compensation benefits attorneys are familiar with these new laws and use them to ensure that our clients get the full amount of benefits they are entitled to.

Unemployment Statistics

It can be difficult to fully understand how the COVID-19 pandemic affected Pennsylvania workers. In Pennsylvania unemployment claims were as follows:

  • Week of March 15: 363,000 claims
  • Week of March 22: 374,056 claims
  • Week of March 29: 239,077 claims
  • Week of April 5: 172,773 claims
  • Week of April 12: 124,633 claims

Since mid-April, the number of new unemployment claims has steadily decreased. However, between March 15 and the beginning of July, the Department of Labor and Industry received over 1.8 million applications for Pennsylvania unemployment benefits.

Since March 15, 2020, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has paid out over $26 billion in benefits, including:

  • Nearly $11 billion on regular unemployment compensation benefits
  • Over $12 billion in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation
  • $3.3 billion from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program
  • $160 million in extended benefits through the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation
  • More than $2 millionthrough Pennsylvania’s Extended Benefits program

The COVID-19 Pandemic Resulted in Major Changes to the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Program

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, lawmakers increased and extended the amount of unemployment benefits. Below is a list of the various types of Pennsylvania unemployment benefits. A worker must apply for an exhaust one level of benefits before applying for the next.

Regular Unemployment Compensation

Pennsylvania unemployment benefits are approximately 50 percent of someone’s average weekly wages, up to a weekly maximum of $573 per week. Benefits are available up to 26 weeks. In addition, until July 25, 2020, eligible applicants will receive an additional $600 per week through Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)

Once a worker exhausts regular unemployment compensation benefits, PEUC benefits become available. The PEUC benefits are available for 13 weeks, and the weekly benefit amount is based on a regular unemployment claim. Eligible applicants will also receive an additional $600 per week through Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.

Pennsylvania Extended Benefits (E.B.)

Extended benefits are available once a worker exhausts regular unemployment compensation benefits as well as their PEUC benefits. Extended benefits are typically available for half as many weeks as a worker was eligible for regular unemployment benefits. For example, if a worker received 18 weeks of regular unemployment compensation benefits, they would be eligible for nine weeks of extended benefits. Qualified applicants will also receive the additional $600 per week through Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

Once a worker exhausts all other benefits, they can apply for PUA benefits. PUA benefits are payable up to 39 weeks, and are based on a worker’s 2019 earnings. Eligible applicants will also receive an additional $600 per week through Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.

Those obtaining unemployment benefits are not currently required to look for and apply for employment. In addition, other changes may apply to individual workers’ unique situations. Anyone who has lost their job due to COVID-19 should consult with a dedicated Erie unemployment compensation attorney to discuss their situation.

Contact an Experienced Erie Unemployment Compensation Law Firm for Assistance

Despite the availability of additional and extended benefits due to the COVID-19 pandemic, obtaining Pennsylvania unemployment compensation benefits is not always straightforward. At the law firm of Melaragno, Placidi & Parini, our seasoned Erie unemployment lawyers have the dedication, knowledge and skill necessary to handle Pennsylvania unemployment compensation hearings and appeals – even in the wake of COVID-19. We can help lift the burdens associated with the unemployment appeals process from your shoulders and help you get the benefits you deserve. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, call us at (814) 459-5557.