The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry is transitioning to a new unemployment benefits system that’s slated to be faster and easier-to-use. Minimal or no disruptions in benefits are anticipated for most unemployment payment recipients, according to Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier.
The Unemployment Compensation system will be offline for several days during the transition from an outdated, 40-year-old system to a modern software solution, but the planned timeline has been postponed to allow most individuals to file their biweekly claims as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 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-June 7, with the new system anticipated to be “live” on June 8.
– 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-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 6-12, 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-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 3-9; 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 aiming to minimize the impact on claimants and allowing both claim weeks to have days to file on time. 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, taking new inquiries from claimants and placing them in the queue for when the system comes online. They will also be able to assist individuals who are experiencing issues and will answer questions about the offline period and the new UC system generally.
“L&I is continuing to offer as many resources as possible to help Pennsylvanians with the transition,” said 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 system will use Keystone ID, the state’s secure login for many services from the commonwealth, including the department of Human Services and the State Employees’ Retirement System. It allows a user to log into multiple online services with the same username and password.
Keystone ID will replace the current UC Personal Identification Number used by individuals to file for biweekly benefits or by phone. Instead of using a PIN to file weekly benefits online, they will log in with the Keystone ID. Individuals who choose to file weekly claims by phone will continue using the PIN.
People without a Keystone ID will be required to create one the first time they log in to the new UC system on June 8. Individuals who currently have a Keystone ID account can use the same username and password to access online services that use Keystone ID.
Resources on how to create and use the Keystone ID are here.