Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pennsylvania Service Center for Unemployment Claims - Who Are These People, Anyway?

The Service Center is the place where claims for unemployment are initially administered.  The two main offices in Allentown and Erie.  The Service Center representatives are reasonably well-educated people.  Perhaps the most important thing they do is make initial determinations into whether or not applicants for unemployment are entitled to benefits.

Service Center representatives are a lot like insurance adjusters.  The Unemployment Fund is largely comprised by contributions made by employers and employees throughout the state.  Thus, the Fund is analogous to an insurance policy - which is primarily funded by premiums paid by customers. 

Since Service Center representatives are like insurance adjusters, they often fall into one of two camps: 1) conservative with the Fund; or, 2) liberal with the Fund.  That is why two different people with virtually identical claims may receive different decisions from the Service Center.

The key thing that Service Center representatives do is collect information from employers and employees as to why the employment relationship ended, and then issue a decision, called a Notice of Determination, setting forth whether benefits are granted or denied.  Either side then has 15 days to appeal the Notice of Determination, which automatically results in a Hearing before an Unemployment Referee.

NOTE:  Do not confuse the Notice of Financial Determination with the Notice of Determination.  Everyone gets an NFD, and it merely tells you how much in benefits you will receive if benefits are granted.

If no one files an appeal from the Notice of Determination, the decision of the Service Center becomes final.

NOTE:  If you do not appeal from the Notice of Determination within 15 days, any right you have to appeal will be lost.  IT IS VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO FILE A LATE APPEAL FROM A NOTICE OF DETERMINATION.  That is why it is important that you keep an eye out for the NOD.  The Notice of Financial Determination always comes within 1-2 weeks of your application.  The NOD may come much later.

If an appeal from a Notice of Determination is filed, a Hearing before a Referee will be conducted in all cases.  When this occurs, the decision of the Service Center is basically annulled; it has no relevance or persuasive value to the Referee.  The Referee is in no way required to consider, much less rely upon or follow, the reasoning or decision of the Service Center representative found within the Notice of Determination.

Click Here for a detailed discussion of the most frequently asked questions about Pennsylvania Unemployment law.

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