Having problems with Pa. new unemployment system? Know these tips
Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of Labor & Industry Jennifer Berrier said Wednesday that the main issues filers complained about with the launch of the new unemployment compensation system this week have either been addressed or are awaiting fixes.
Nearly 76,000 people filed for unemployment benefits within the first 24 hours of the new online system going live, said Berrier during an online news conference, and $59 million in payments is scheduled to be processed by the state Treasury Department.
Berrier, though, quickly acknowledged the complaints lodged Tuesday during the rollout of the new $30 million system. She said staff addressed 2,000 individual complaints filed on Tuesday.
“Our staff has been working overnight to resolve many of these issues,” she said.
What problems need fixed?
Users flooded Labor & Industry’s social media channels on Tuesday with complaints about the new system, particularly about the requirement to use a Keystone ID.
Berrier reminded users on Wednesday that previously needed PINs are not usable and claimants need to sign-up for and use their Keystone IDs and passwords.
On its online tracker, the department listed three reported issues and the status of each:
- A payment type issue has told some users who receive direct deposit that their payment type is via debit card. As Berrier said Tuesday, this is a display issue and the correct payment method will be used by the Treasury Department. No action needs to be taken on this issue, but users who want to change their payment method can do so, Berrier said.
- An “invalid password” message when users attempt to log back into their account. The department said a fix is in progress.
- A server connectivity issue when trying to log into accounts with Keystone IDs. The department said a fix is in progress.
Berrier said Labor & Industry staff are also reaching out to claimants with problems “so we can pin down what exactly is going on.”
Those who use the new system should also be aware of the waiting room feature that they might see during high-use periods.
Berrier reminded users that they can now file 24 hours a day, and they can avoid peak hours by returning to the site after normal business hours when online traffic declines.
There are also various user guides, instructional videos and tutorials available on the Labor & Industry website.
Even with the issues incurred with the change, Berrier said most have been “relatively minor” and fixable, compared to other states that have implemented new systems and taken weeks to address problems.
“Pennsylvania was able to put in fixes in hours,” she said.
Claimants are also seeing messages about the work registration requirement, even though that does not go back into effect until July 18.
Legislation in Harrisburg that would end Gov. Tom Wolf’s emergency declaration order for the pandemic could mean the work registration requirement returns sooner, but Berrier said her department is focused on the new system and has legal staff analyzing any law changes.
Why implement a new system?
Berrier announced in April that the state’s 40-year-old system would be replaced this month. The old system was taken offline June 3 so that data could be migrated to the new system.
The new system will be more “intuitive” for users, Berrier has said, and should lessen the need for users to contact the Unemployment Compensation Service Center with questions.
In addition, Berrier said the department would be hiring more customer service representatives and nearly 200 interviewers to help with questions and claims.
J.D. Prose is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network's Pennsylvania State Capital Bureau. He can be reached at email@example.com.