PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pennsylvania has launched its new system to file claims for unemployment, and there are some new features and requirements you can expect to face if you’re using the new program.
The changes to this system have been needed for some time. The old system had been in place for around four decades, and its flaws were exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Department of Labor & Industry says this new system should be faster, but the new system had a rough first day.
First, there was a phone outage. But even after that was fixed, the problems persisted.
“I’ve been on hold now for 37 minutes, eight seconds,” said Cheryl Madison. “Very frustrating.”
She was informed on Tuesday that her payment had been canceled, and she could not reach anyone to find out why.
Acting Labor and Industry Secretary Jennifer Berrier acknowledged the problems but said the state was in the process of fixing them, blaming the glitches on a surge of more than 60,000 people filing claims in the first few hours.
“We expected that there were going to be glitches,” Berrier said. “Frankly, what has occurred so far is very promising about the system. We have people working quickly to resolve any issues that pop up.”
The $32 million system is expected to reduce the need for Unemployment Compensation customer service because claimants will have access to more information and self-serve options.
Claims for the week of May 30 can be filed through the new system.
One change to how claims are filed — they’re now filed weekly instead of bi-weekly.
Benefits that will carry to the new system include:
- Unemployment Compensation
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation
- Extended Benefits
- Shared Work Or Short Time Compensation
- Trade Readjustment Allowances
If you’ve filed in the past, your Keystone ID will carry over to the new system as well. A new rule that has been put in place will ask claimants if they are searching for work.
Brian Drdek was also denied his next payment because he was unable to create or reset his Keystone password to get into the system.
“I don’t have it, and I can’t talk to anyone to reset my old one,” Drdek told KDKA’s Andy Sheehan.
The state said it can get through these glitches in the first few days.
Madison was laid off from Comcast and is in training to get a commercial driver’s license but needs her unemployment check to get by. She thinks the launch was premature.
“I don’t like it,” she said. “They could have waited until the pandemic was over. … This was a bad time.”