new UC system
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Harrisburg, Pa. - The new and hopefully-improved unemployment benefits system is now online and accepting claims.

The new unemployment compensation (UC) system replaces a 40-year-old outdated mainframe that made filing for unemployment benefits complicated for users and processing benefits cumbersome for staff. The new system is designed to make the process faster and easier for both claimants and staff. 

“Today, Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Compensation system took a giant leap forward not just in terms of technology, but in the quality of service we are able to provide,” said Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier.

“L&I staff have been working hard to make the transition to this new system seamless for users. As we see users logging on and successfully filing their claims in this faster and easier-to-use system, we are thrilled to see our vision of a modern, intuitive unemployment system has finally come to fruition.”

A soft launch of the new UC system took place just after 3 a.m. on Tuesday, with more than 41,000 individuals filing claims by 10:40 a.m.

The Department of Labor and Industry experienced a phone issue that was unrelated to the new system, making staff unable to answer calls from claimants. The phone system is now operational again. Questions and comments about the new system may be directed to the Unemployment Compensation Service Center at 888-313-7284 or by email at uchelp@pa.gov.

Based on user feedback, the Department of Labor and Industry has already pinpointed two areas where several users have experienced complications.

The first issue is that some users who receive payments by direct deposit see their payment type listed as "debit card."

According to L&I, this is a display issue and not an issue with the payment type. The label should be corrected after a payment is made with no action required from the user.

Some users have also experienced issues logging in with their Keystone ID or attempting to change payment type. The issue is server-side and is in the process of being fixed. L&I will post notifications of status updates and system upgrades through social media, direct messaging to affected users, and on the UC System Check Enhancements Tracker.

“While we have seen success with the system so far, we are continuing to monitor it and have staff ready to identify and resolve any issues that might arise,” said Berrier. “We will continue to update the public regularly as adjustments and improvements are made to our new unemployment system.”

L&I is anticipating high interest in the new system at the beginning and has prepared for higher-than-normal traffic by implementing a virtual waiting room. If the number of users on the new system exceeds a certain capacity, the system sends excess users to a "waiting room" page to prevent system overloads. The waiting room places each user into a queue in the order of their arrival on the page, then admits them as other users leave. Users who are in the waiting room should not reload, exit or reenter, or use an unstable connection (if possible) because they will be placed into the back of the "line."

Users are reminded that fewer individuals file for their weekly benefits later in the week and during non-business hours, so they are least likely to encounter the waiting room during these times.

The Department of Labor and Industry has created a library of resources to help users adapt to the new system, including Spanish language guides and virtual workshops.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program is not affected by the change to the new system.

This article originally ran on northcentralpa.com.

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