By: Don Shaw email: don.shaw@pennsylvaniachronicle.com (570) 543-2961

Speaker Turzai releases update on Pennsylvania Unemployment claims, 818,000 plus claimants have received extra benefits

Speaker Turzai releases update on Pennsylvania Unemployment claims, 818,000 plus claimants have received extra benefits

Harrisburg, PA

Speaker of the Pennsylvania House Mike Turzai released the following data on unemployment in Pennsylvania this morning:

Since March 15:
• There have been 1.612 million new UC claims (about 70% of the new claims have begun to be paid – keep in mind that claims typically take 2-4 weeks to receive payment under normal circumstance, when nothing is wrong with the claim).
• There have been over 5 million payments on new and continued claims.
• $1.932 billion in benefits have been paid on new and continued claims.
 818,000+ claimants have received FPUC (extra $600) benefits -totaling over $490 million.
• 90,000+ PUA applications have been successfully filed – REMEMBER – only the application is functional right now, which they are still troubleshooting. The benefit system is still under construction. PUA claims cannot be paid until that happens (they will probably start paying sometime in early May).

Mail Room Update:
• They are still working three shifts, seven days per week. The average turnaround time from the time the mail room receives an item from UC is:
• 1 day for PINs.
• 1.5 days for financial determinations.
• 2.5 days for employer notifications.
• 3 days for relief from charges documents.

Specific UC claim issue updates and responses to questions:
• UC will be completing an IT fix (hopefully) this weekend to address reopened claims. They have had to fix these claims manually, but this IT fix will address large number of problem claims at once – about 160,000 claimants need this fix.
• During the wait for the PUA application, many people who are not eligible for regular UC applied for benefits. They will be denied, but the department is sending a notification (electronically where possible) to those claimants to notify them that they may be eligible for PUA.
• The initial glitch in the PUA application that screened out some applicants with wage history was fixed, but 48,000 claimants got the notification to apply for UC – 37,000 of those have been able go back and successfully file a PUA application.
• Since the PUA application is still not connected to the uncompleted benefit system, claimants are not receiving an accurate determination amount. Right now, they are seeing the minimum $195 weekly benefit amount, but they will see correct information when the benefits system is added.
• After the PUA benefit system is added, claimants will not receive payment until they file weekly certifications (in the same manner that UC claimants do not receive payment until they file a biweekly claim).
• The PUA system DOES allow people to log back in and add new information (although the system is set to time out after a period of inactivity, like a bank website). However, there have been numerous login issues for some people. The department is working on this issue.
• If someone is frozen out of the PUA application and needs to provide additional information to UC about their claim, they have two options 1) wait until the glitch is fixed and add the information then – PUA claims are not being processed yet anyway -or 2) send a detailed email explaining the situation and attaching the documents to ucpua@pa.gov if they want to do something right away.
• Constituents should attach whatever documents they have to best document the claim that they lost work/income. The list of documents on the website are the best options, but other documents will be accepted if they demonstrate loss of work/income.
• Some claimants have multiple sources of income. The PUA application is asking for total quarterly income – so they should add up their sources – they do not enter each source separately.
• The department was asked about staggered shifts to expand service center phone hours – generally, they are focused on bringing in new employees to increase capacity. If more staff are transferred to the phones now, they will be diverted away from answering emails and dealing with claim issues.