You Do NOT Have to Enswer Each Question When You Fill Out the Claimant Questionnaire in PA!
Question 4 asks if you quit your job or took a leave of absence. The way it is written, it seems to some that you must pick one of these. You do not! Answer this question only if you were not fired. Only answer Question 6 if you quit your job! Likewise, only answer Question 8 if you quit your job! Neither are applicable ("N/A") if you were fired. If you were terminated, do not answer Questions 6 or 8.
The Questionnaire is Only A Step In the Process
If the employer intends to fight your claim, you will one day have a Hearing in front of a Referee. Whether you are initially granted or denied unemployment benefits, the decision can be appealed by you or the employer. Then a Hearing is held before a Referee. This Hearing is where you get to tell your full story! Remember, the more you put in writing before the Hearing, the more your words can be used against you. Tell the truth in a few simple, well thought out words. The person reviewing your answers is not the final decision-maker, so do not sweat it if they rule against you. If you do not tell the truth, or give too many details, the Referee will grill you on that at your Hearing.
What to Do if You Cannot Work Due to a Disability or Injury
Answer 7 no matter what. If you cannot work due to a physical restriction, then you cannot get unemployment benefits. But, if you have only minor limitations, spell that out! You do not want to lose your claim because unemployment mistakenly believes that you are disabled from all jobs. If you cannot perform your old job in the factory operating a crane because of a bad arm, that does not mean that you cannot do a different job in a whole new vocational area, such as working at a desk. Question 7 is tricky, because most people assume it is asking only whether you have work restrictions that affected your ability to do your old job. That is not the case. The question is intended to determine whether you have work restrictions that would prevent you from doing any job, or at least a broad range of jobs.
The Tricky Questions, 7-10
Question 9 applies if you answered yes to 7. If you have a partial disability, then answer yes to number 9. If you answer no to number 9, you will not get unemployment - if that happens, you may want to talk to Social Security Disability Attorney. Or, if your condition is temporary, and you will be able to work in a few weeks or so, then explain that here. And reapply for benefits every two weeks until you can finally answer yes to this question!
Otherwise, Question 9 applies to whether you are unavailable because of personal reasons, such as you are incarcerated, you are caring for an ill loved one, you are temporarily out of state, etc. Just explain honestly, and reapply every two weeks until you once again become able for work.
Question 10 is a lot like Question 9. It really applies to non-medical situations, such as incarceration, being away from the area, caring for a loved one, etc.
Be Careful With the Catch All Question!
Be careful with the catch all offer to explain your situation that follows Question 10. The more you say, the more it can be used against you in an unemployment hearing. Remember, it is at the unemployment hearing that disputed claims are won or lost, no matter what happens initially! Anything you say here that is inaccurate can and will be used against you at the Referee's Hearing! You may think that a feeling or belief is relevant, or that certain evidence is relevant. Do not try and win your case here! If the case is important to you, and the employer is going to fight you, be sparse with your words and hire an attorney to represent you at the Hearing.
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