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Dept. of Labor & Industry will launch new unemployment compensation system on June 8, secretary says

The new system will allow Pennsylvanians to have a much quicker and easier time filing claims for benefits, according to Acting L&I Secretary Jennifer Berrier.
Credit: WPMT

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry announced Thursday that the department will launch a new unemployment compensation system on June 8.

The new system, with modern software, will replace an obsolete mainframe legacy system that is more than 40 years old, allowing Pennsylvanians to have a much quicker and easier time filing claims for benefits, according to Acting L&I Secretary Jennifer Berrier.

"It is the technology with the black screen and the green dots. Frankly it’s amazing that we’ve been able to handle the capacity that we’ve been able to handle during this pandemic," Berrier said.

The new system is billed as making the unemployment compensation process easier and faster. It will have mobile accessibility and allow for claimants and employers to receive and respond to alerts from UC staff, files claims and check the status of a payment.

“The new system will be easy to use, provide access to important information, and streamline the unemployment claim filing process for workers, employers, unemployment program staff, and third-party administrators,” said Berrier. “The pandemic stressed an already-antiquated IT platform and we look forward to improving the process so that out-of-work Pennsylvanians can focus their time and attention on finding a new job.”

For the nearly 350,000 Pennsylvanians who filed initial claims in 2021, a more efficient process can’t come soon enough.

“I have some money saved but not enough living money that I can just say it doesn’t matter if I get unemployment or not. It does matter,” said Leslie Miller of Carlisle.

Since Miller lost her job in January, she said she has been filing biweekly claims, but still has not received any benefits.

“I even called today to find out about accessing my 401(k) early if I need to, just so that I have a plan in place in case this drags out,” Miller said.

The Department of Labor and Industry had planned to roll out the new system in spring 2020, but officials said they had to redirect resources to handle a crush of claims amid the pandemic.

“There’s a bit of risk that you don’t want to take when you’re getting hit with new record filing that are record amounts of claims,” said Berrier.

The new system was developed by Florida-based Geographic Information System at a cost of $30.2 million.

Claimants will not be able to file claims during a two-week transition period after the system launches. Those claimants will receive delayed benefits for those two weeks.

Programs that will transition to the new system are:

  • Unemployment Compensation (UC)
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
  • Extended Benefits (EB)
  • Shared Work or Short-Time Compensation (STC)
  • Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA)

The new system will have a different look and feel than the current system and is better aligned with the user interface of modern websites, making it more intuitive to use, the department said.

It will also provide access to more information and self-serve options and reduce the need for claimants to contact the UC service center, Berrier added.

“Our goal is to modernize the overall process and make it easier for Pennsylvanians who file unemployment claims to receive the payments to which they are entitled,” said Berrier. “The hardworking team at L&I is committed to resolving issues as they arise and helping Pennsylvanians who need our services.”

L&I will provide user guides and hold live workshops with UC experts to assist individuals with learning how to use the new system before its implementation, Berrier said. 

Individuals currently filing for benefits through one of the above-listed programs will need to use the new UC system to file their weekly or biweekly claims, Berrier said. 

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