Unemployment claim issues, PEUC program to be up and running in mid-May

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – There are more issues with unemployment claims, as more than 1.7 million Pennsylvanians have now filed. There’s also frustration over the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, under the federal CARES Act, which is still not up and running.

The PEUC system hasn’t been completed yet. It provides up to 13 weeks of additional unemployment benefits to people, who previously collected state or federal unemployment compensation, but exhausted those benefits.

“My benefits exhausted on Saturday, April 4th so it’s been a month now since I’ve received any income,” said Jake Crider.

Crider says he’s frustrated the PEUC system isn’t available yet.

“We expect it to be up in mid-May and then we’ll be able to start paying out the benefits which will be retroactive to April 4th. The U.S. Department of Labor tells us we must pay regular unemployment first, if someone can qualify for it, followed by PEUC,” said Susan Dickinson, Director of Unemployment Compensation Benefits Policy.

Crider has had the same issues so many others have had. He can’t get ahold of anyone in the unemployment compensation office, something the Department of Labor and Industry is trying to remedy as fast as it can.

“We’re in the process of bringing on 100 new intake interviewers. We are going to add 150 to that, and part of their job will be to work on that backlog,” said Jerry Oleksiak, Pennsylvania Secretary of Labor and Industry.

Five hundred people in other agencies are in training to help out as well. State officials say the best way to get ahold of someone is over email versus a phone call or the live chat. But if you submit an email now, it will take 33 days to get a response back. We’re told, the best days to reach the unemployment compensation office are on Thursdays and Fridays.

Tomorrow, two senate committees are scheduled to hold a joint hearing to address all the issues the unemployment compensation system has been having.

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