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Phone Issues Affect Pennsylvania Unemployment Claims

Jobless Pennsylvanians had a tough time filing claims with the state in fall 2012 due to a $30 million fall in federal funding, out of date technology and possible sabotage, the Corbett administration said.

But alterations have been made, state Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Julia Hearthway told a joint House and Senate panel.

“We feel the phone system is largely fixed at this point. And I feel that we’ve turned a corner on some of these issues,” Hearthway told the joint labor and industry committee.

Not everyone agreed.

An official of Community Legal Services, which offers free lawful support to low-income Philadelphia residents, said in written statement that it’s still taking too long for lay-offs to get the aid they need.

According to Sharon Dietrich, managing director of the organization, a paralegal tested the system earlier in January and experienced wait times that ranged from 48 minutes to four hours. And sometimes, Dietrich said, the paralegal couldn’t get through at all.

“A significant problem … is that calls from cell phones fare particularly poorly. For instance, she called from a land line and a cell phone at the same time. The land line call got through in one hour and six minutes. The cell phone call took three hours and 57 minutes,” Dietrich said in her statement.

Hearthway said the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry bought a new phone system on October 23. It restored what she called the “antiquated” technology that had been employed since the state’s call centers were established in the late 1990s. Still, she said, the change was not as smooth as expected.

“I anticipated glitches; there were more than just glitches with that phone system, which made the situation worse than it otherwise would have been,” Hearthway said.

The labor/industry secretary also said an investigation is under way to decide if someone tried to hack into the system to make it almost impossible for anybody to get through to the call centers.

“The numbers are astronomical, unprecedented. There are some things that look very suspicious,” she said. “State police are investigating certain aspects of this: whether there was any intentional sabotage of the system or not, whether there were computer programs that were designed to have that kind of rapid redialing system.”

All funding for Pennsylvania’s administration of unemployment compensation programs comes from the federal government, Hearthway said. As the number of unwaged claims dropped considerably from January 2011 to September 2012, Washington paid the state $155 million in fiscal 2012-13, which is $30 million less than it collected the year before.

Hearthway said the commonwealth could see another $10 million stripped from its budget because less people keep on seeking unemployment benefits.

She said January is the department’s busiest month for jobless claims and the complaints were down from last year’s rate.

    1. Jose,

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  1. I’m attemptiing to file my first weekly claim since my layoff, however, my PIN# is not correct. what do I do to get my correct PIN# , please?

  2. I have exhausted my unemployment benefits in Texas but my calendar year does not end until September. Do I have to wait until the calendar year is over in Texas, to apply for unemployment benefits in New York in which I have available quarters?

    1. Mattie,

      As much as I am aware, UI benefits are only a one-time cycle. Please call the Claims Center for clarification.

  3. Help ran out of unemployment benefits for the pass 8 years i have worked at Hexion speciality chemical plant in Brady Texas how can i get my benefits extended

    1. Roderick,

      The E.U.C(Emergency Unemployment Compensation) remains expired. There is no extension available. Please inquire further with the labor authorities in your state by calling them.

    1. Annette,

      You can visit the official website of the Unemployment Office and ‘login’ to check the claim status. Alternatively, you can also call the Claims Center.

      PS: It should not take 6 weeks to process the initial claim. Please chase at regular intervals.

    1. Jocelyn,

      Unemployment is offered to claimants who’re able and available for work. Please call the Unemployment Office to ascertain if you can apply.

  4. I have been working for the same company for the past 11 years. I started out cleaning apartments, then landscaping and finally Asst. Manager for the past seven years. However, the owner/ manager had us all sign papers claiming we were “Independent Contractors.” I worked Monday thru Friday from 8am – 5pm the entire 11 years. Obviously, in reality, we had Never been “Independent Contractors.”
    Finally, October 2018 we became employee’s. On May 10, 2019 he sold the business which puts us all out of work. I tried filing for unemployment, but, I don’t have enough quarters in. Assuming I’m still out of work, can I wait for the next quarter to end, thus giving me the 2 quarters I need or will it not make a difference.

    1. Lea,

      Why don’t you look at alternate based period? Please use the link below to access the Base Period calculator.

  5. I have been working as an hourly employee for the last 4 months. Currently the board of the nonprofit agency came to me and told me that I had to file a 1099 or go to part time or find a new job. I have a scheduled time that I report to work. What are the laws here in Florida about who can receive a 1099

  6. I am unemployed and currently going to a community college. How can I apply for federal assistance?

    1. Carol,

      If you’re able and available for full-time employment, you can directly go to the website of the Unemployment Office and apply.

  7. I have worked in AZ since March 2016. However, I moved lived and worked for my employer in CA since 08/02/1982. Can I apply for Cali unemployment benefits?

    1. Robert,

      You should be applying from the state where your employment was based. Employers generally remit unemployment taxes to the state where the employee is based.

      1. How long does it take Washington state unemployment to deposit your back pay after they receive the determination letter from OAH stating I won my appeal?

  8. I have been trying for over a month to file and I still do not seem to be able to do it, but I finally got to the correct place, I think.

  9. Cumberland NJ Unemployment Center kept me on hold for 2 hours; I finally had someone answer my call, after providing my information and question regarding the status of my NJ Unemployment Claim the representative disconnected my call.

  10. Excellent list of things to help execute better. Even taking 3 or 4 of these that one does not currently utilize could help immensely.

    1. How did you calculate the total weekly Illinois benefit of $1495? Also, why isn’t Washington and Minnesota listed in your top 5 states with the highest paid unemployment insurance compensation?

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