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Advisory Committee Recommends Pausing Unemployment Benefit System Change During Unprecedent Claims Volume

09/24/2020

Harrisburg, PA – At the recommendation of state legislators, stakeholders and the U.S. Department of Labor, Pennsylvania will avoid potentially disrupting people relying on unemployment compensation by pausing the launch of a new system that will change how to file for and claim benefits.

The Unemployment Compensation Benefits Modernization (UC Ben Mod) system was scheduled to launch this fall. However, the Ben Mod Advisory Committee, which includes appointees representing all four legislative caucuses, recommended postponing the launch. With a record volume of UC applicants and several temporary federal unemployment compensation programs, the committee advised that now is not the time to change the UC system.

"For the many Pennsylvanians out of work because of COVID-19, the unemployment compensation system is providing a lifeline and crucial benefits that claimants need for food and housing during this unprecedented time," said L&I Secretary Jerry Oleksiak. "While we are prepared to transition to the new system, with the advice and recommendations from our communities, businesses, and legislative partners, we have decided to temporarily hold the launch." 

L&I will continue to work closely with state legislators and stakeholders to determine the appropriate time to launch the new UC system.

Despite the surge in UC claims and new federal UC programs to administer, L&I staff have remained on track with the training and system development needed to launch UC Ben Mod. With this adjustment, L&I staff can continue to focus on assisting claimants, and users will not need to learn to navigate a new system to file for unemployment during this high-volume time.

L&I has paid out more than $28 billion in unemployment claims since March 15. This total includes multiple new federal programs, including Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and the FEMA Lost Wages Assistance Program, which are administered by L&I.

For updates on a new launch date as it becomes available, visit www.uc.pa.gov or follow L&I on Facebook or Twitter.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Sarah DeSantis, dlipress@pa.gov

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