Backdating a UC Claim two weeks because of ill family members upheld.

Posted August 2013 in Unemployment Compensation by Sharon Lopez

A claim for Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation (UC) benefits can be backdated up to six weeks but the Pennsylvania Code (Pa. Code) places two different burdens of proof for the first two weeks of backdating from the remaining four weeks of backdating.  If the claimant presents evidence of any of the following conditions the claimant is entitled to two weeks of backdating the UC claim:1) acceptance of claims at the UC office is suspended because of excessive filings; 2) the method of filing is unavailable on the last day of timely filing; 3) the UC office fails to accept the filing in error; 4) the claimant makes reasonable good faith efforts to file and through no fault of their own the claimant is unable to timely file the claim; or 5) the claimant has an immediate family member who is sick or dies.  However, if two or more of the above conditions prevent the claimant from filing a claim the longer extension applies, but only if there are two or more conditions present and if the conditions prevent the claimant from filing the claim. This backdating process is set forth in the Pa. Code.  34 Pa. Code § 65.43a(e).

 

On July 9, 2013, the Commonwealth Court issued an opinion clarifying the backdating process.  See Falcone v. Unemployment Comp. Bd. of Review, No. 2092 C.D. 2012, 2013 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 240 (Pa. Commw. Ct. July 9, 2013).  The claimant in Falcone had several family members who were gravely ill at the time he should have applied for UC benefits.  The UC Referee and the UC Board of Review denied his application for backdating arguing that Falcone’s sick family members only distracted him from filing but did not prevent him from filing for his benefits.  The Commonwealth Court reversed the decision in part and found that the first two weeks of backdating were permitted because the Pa Code only required the Claimant to prove he had a sick family member, not to prove he was prevented from filing his claim for the first two weeks.  However, the Commonwealth Court sustained the denial of backdating for the remaining additional four weeks because the Claimant did not prove any of the other reasons listed in the Pa. Code were present and the Pa. Code required two or more conditions for additional backdating.  Although the Commonwealth Court considered the possibility that multiple gravely ill family members may be sufficient to raise the possibility of backdating based on the illness of each family member, the Commonwealth Court found the Claimant failed to present this argument and he also failed to present evidence that he was prevented from filing because of their illness.  The holding of the case makes it clear that Pennsylvania workers who have ill family members may backdate their UC claims up to two weeks with no additional proof required.  However, if you wait to file your claim beyond the two week backdating period you must prove you were prevented from filing because of the immediate family member’s illness.

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