– Frustrated over ongoing complaints relating to Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation (UC) system, Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) today delivered a letter
to Labor and Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier demanding action. The letter also detailed specific issues claimants are encountering when dealing with the department, which launched its “new and improved” UC system in June.
“Our office has been handling calls from claimants who have not been able to collect benefits due to them, or who are awaiting adjudication from a UC referee for several months,” Heffley wrote. “These claimants are doubly frustrated because they cannot get through on the phone or via email to anyone in the UC office. When they do get through to someone, they are told that the person answering the phone cannot help them – they will just take the claimant’s name and number, and assign them a number in the que to have someone call them back. Many claimants have been waiting weeks for a callback. This is unacceptable. Your department is failing the citizens of our Commonwealth.”
Heffley noted that his office has assisted nearly 1,000 constituents with their UC complaints since March 2020, but the average number of weekly contacts had been on the decline until recently.
“With the institution of the new UC system, the inefficiencies seem to be on an uptick,” added Heffley. “We are now getting again an average of 17 to 20 calls per week, and the turnaround time for an answer from L&I is now topping 18 days.”
Many of these claims are from seasonal employees or manufactures that are forced to close because of supply-chain issues. While the claimants are expected to be called back after a brief layoff, they are still dependent on the UC benefits to provide for their families.
In mid-June, Berrier announced that more than 400,000 people had successfully used the new UC system, roughly the same number as before its launch, “indicating an overall effective transition.”
At a news conference earlier this month, Gov. Tom Wolf said the transition to the new UC system has been smooth, but he acknowledged there have still been some issues.