• Kirstin Kennedy

A Basic Guide to Benefit Duration

If you’re receiving unemployment compensation benefits while you search for a new job, you may wonder how long you have before the payments run out. Under the guidelines of the Pennsylvania Office of Unemployment Compensation, no person may collect unemployment benefits for more than twenty-six weeks.

Notably, not everyone qualifies for the full twenty-six weeks. However, the calculation is relatively simple, as there are two main ways that dictate how long and how much you can receive in unemployment compensation benefits.

After you apply for and are found eligible to receive benefits, you will be able to continue to receive payments through the service until you reach your Maximum Benefit Amount (MBA) or until you Benefit Year (BY) concludes. In most cases, the MBA is reached prior to the BY conclusion.

The clock on the BY begins ticking when you apply for benefits. You will have one year to collect benefits, unless you reach your MBA.

The MBA is determined by multiplying your weekly benefit rate with the number of credit weeks that are in your base year. The maximum number of weeks that a person can collect unemployment compensation benefits in Pennsylvania is twenty-six weeks. You must have at least eighteen credit weeks to qualify for benefits. Credit weeks are weeks in which you were employed and are, as a result, eligible to collect benefits. A person with eighteen credits, for example, would qualify for eighteen weeks of eligibility for unemployment benefits.

Finding employment can also impact the duration in which you are eligible for benefits.

When you find full-time employment, you automatically lose your eligibility to continue to collect unemployment benefits. Obtaining full-time employment will end your eligibility, regardless of how many credit weeks you had left.

If you are hired to a part-time position, the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Department will review the number of hours that you work as well as your rate of pay to determine how your unemployment benefits will be impacted. The department does so by evaluating what is known as your Partial Benefit Credit.

While on unemployment, you can work on a part-time basis to earn up to 30 percent of your weekly benefit rate. The 30 percent you earn is your Partial Benefit Credit. Any amount that you earn that exceeds 30 percent of your weekly benefit rate is deducted from your unemployment benefit amount. The deduction is made dollar-for-dollar, so if you exceed the 30 percent marker by $10, your unemployment benefits will be deducted by $10 for that given week. If your earnings on a given week are more than or equal to your weekly benefit rate, you will not receive unemployment benefits for that week.