Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier today announced the preparations for the transition to a new, faster, and easier-to-use unemployment benefits system are going well, with minimal or no disruption in benefits anticipated for most unemployment payment recipients. The Unemployment Compensation (UC) system will be offline for several days during next month's transition from an outdated, 40-year-old system to a modern software solution, but the planned timeline has been positioned to allow most individuals to file their biweekly claims as scheduled.
"Only a small portion of claimants are anticipated to be impacted by the offline period," said Acting Secretary Berrier. "Teams of IT and UC experts continue working to tighten the offline timeframe and conduct intensive end-to-end testing at critical stages in the process to ensure as smooth a transition as possible."
The transition from the old system to the new system will take place May 30 through June 7, 2021, with the new system anticipated to be "live" on June 8, 2021.
- From Thursday, June 3, to Monday, June 7, individuals with ongoing claims will be unable to file biweekly certifications.
- Individuals scheduled to file their biweekly certification during the week of May 30 to June 5 will be able to file their biweekly claims between Sunday, May 30, and Wednesday, June 2. L&I will process all claims and issue payments through the Pennsylvania Treasury after the old system is taken offline but before the transition begins.
- When the new system comes online, everyone will change to a weekly filing pattern.
- During the week of June 6 to 12, individuals will be able to file on time after the new system comes online on June 8.
- Individuals filing for unemployment for the first time will be unable to file a new claim from May 31 to June 7. These individuals will still receive on-time payments if they file when the new system comes online on June 8.
- The ability to file a claim by phone will be offline from June 3 to 9. These individuals can either file using the new online system when it comes online, or they can file on Thursday, June 10, or Friday, June 11.
The transfer of an enormous magnitude of information between the systems can happen only when the UC database is taken offline to ensure that every claimant's information is up-to-date and correct during the transition. Allowing changes to claims and other information while data migration is taking place would increase the risk of issues as this updated information is vital to the new UC system functioning correctly. By positioning the transfer to occur over the weekend, L&I is minimizing the impact on claimants and allowing both claim weeks to have days to file on time.
During the transition, staff will be on-hand to address any issues that arise. Staff will immediately tackle any issue with the goal of preventing and minimizing any delays to the filing calendar. Should an issue occur that delays filing, affected individuals will be notified.
No claims processing will take place during the offline period. The system will be offline for everyone, including L&I staff. However, the UC Service Center will keep the phones and email open. They will still take new inquiries from claimants and place them in the queue for when the system comes online. They will also be able to assist individuals who are experiencing issues and will be able to answer questions about the offline period and the new UC system generally.
Yesterday, 230 newly hired customer service representatives will begin answering phones to help Pennsylvanians with their unemployment questions and claims. An additional 200 customer service representatives are completing onboarding and training and will begin answering calls on May 24. The existing, highly trained claims staff were shifted to positions that exclusively process claims. This is part of a larger initiative announced on March 10, 2021, to transform UC customer service to provide faster assistance by phone and to more quickly resolve claims.
"L&I is continuing to offer as many resources as possible to help Pennsylvanians with the transition," added Berrier. "An update to a system that is antiquated and hard for everyone to use, including Pennsylvanians trying to file their claims, is long overdue. With new claims declining each week, now is the optimal time to make the transition to a 21st century solution."
The new UC system will be much easier to use, provide faster access to relevant information and streamline the unemployment claim filing process for workers, employers, unemployment program staff, as well as the third-party administrators who will be able to easily access and update more of their information. It will offer a more modern interface for users with formatting similar to user-friendly websites most people use every day. The system will be mobile and tablet-friendly and will enable faster communications between users and L&I staff.
For more information and updates on unemployment benefits programs, visit www.uc.pa.gov or follow L&I on Facebook or Twitter.
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