UC - EUC - financial eligibility - wages - allocation - earned v. paid
McKenna v. UCBR - Cmwlth. Court - September 29, 2009
The court held that the claimant did not satisfy the requirement of state and federal law -- 26 U.S.C. §3304 Note, and 43 P.S. §813 -- that his base-year earnings be equal to or greater than 1.5 times his high-quarter earnings.
Claimant's high quarter earnings included some that he earned in the previous quarter. They also included a bonus payment. Had these not been included in his high quarter, he would have been eligible for EUC benefits.
The court rejected his argument that these wages be allocated to the quarter in which they were earned rather than paid.
"This Court is unable to agree with Claimant’s desired allocation of his wages. The Act provides that eligibility for EUC benefits must be determined by state law which implements Section 202(a)(5) of the Federal-State Extended Unemployment Compensation Act of 1970. That section of the Law is Section 403-A which states a claimant must have wages equal to or greater than one and one–half times the highest quarterly wage. Section 4(x) of the Law, 43 P.S. §753(x), defines “wages” as “remuneration paid.”
In Pollard v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 454 A.2d 1166 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1983), this Court explained when wages are considered paid. The Board ruled that William J. Pollard (Pollard) was ineligible for benefits because his wages during the base year were at least $439.00 less than the qualifying amount. Pollard reported that he received $889.53 in additional wages which were not received until after the base year but were attributed to work performed in the fourth quarter of the base year. Pollard argued that the $889.53 should be allocated to the fourth quarter when it was earned. This Court did not agree on the basis that wages must be included in the quarter in which the employee received them not when they were earned. Pollard, 454 A.2d at 1167.
Here, even though Claimant may have earned the $3,200 in the third quarter, it was not paid to him until the fourth quarter. Consequently, this amount must be allocated to fourth quarter wages. Congress has set forth the framework under which EUC benefits are administered and has given states some authority with respect to eligibility. Our General Assembly established the one and one-half times the highest quarter for total wages and has defined “wages.” This Court has determined that wages count when they are paid not when they are earned. The Board did not err."