Unemployment benefits debacle

SPRING GARDEN - December 1, 2009 Victor Krievins of Flourtown spent hours trying to file his bi-weekly unemployment claim online since Sunday when the state run web access program crashed.

"Which means every day that it's delayed, delayed payment one more day or more cuz that many more payments to process."

A technical problem with The Department of Labor and Industry's online unemployment compensation filing system left thousands of Pennsylvania's unemployed who depend on it unable to file their claims.

Efforts to correct the problem resulted in the system working intermittently. So people with problems were encouraged to call in their claims. But a backlog made getting through difficult.

Tuesday people who couldn't get through online or the phone were directed to the states Career Link employment centers to submit claims on paper.

"We're definitely seeing an increase of claimants coming in to try to connect with the unemployment claims call center. We have copies of form and staff available," said Nicki Woods, PA CareerLink Administrator.

At this point, the state says claims filed by Wednesday, will be paid by Friday. People, who can't file claims by then, won't get an unemployment check this week.

Suddenly Tuesday, Victor got notification that his claim was received on Monday. At a time he says he wasn't even online. So he's still unsure of whether the claim went through. The 54-year-old laid off commercial real estate agent will have to wait and see.

"Fortunately I can last a couple of weeks but there are people who need to go out today to buy groceries. I'm not in that boat thank God. But there are plenty of people who are."

Technicians are reportedly working around the clock to identify and fix the glitch that caused the problem in the first place. That in an effort to get the unemployment internet filing system back to normal as soon as possible.

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