PITTSBURGH – Problems with the Pennsylvania unemployment benefit system persist as many people waiting for benefits have financial difficulties getting on vacation. Several people contacted 11 investigators and told us that the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry is ruining their Christmas because they are not getting the money they are owed.
âMy son stopped us. I think of the people who don’t have a safety net, âsaid Donna DeMarco, who was unemployed in October but hasn’t seen a penny.
Log into the State unemployment benefit system is a daily frustration for Donna DeMarco and her daughter Darby Testa of Pittsburgh’s Southside. Both were unemployed that fall and have struggled with Pennsylvania’s system ever since.
“I am a single mother who has been trying to raise my child with no income since September 15,” said Darby.
Backlog problems persist
In June, the state launched a $ 35 million upgrade to its computer system that should help improve a massive backlog of claims. The state says waiting times have “improved dramatically” with “many eligible applicants receiving benefits within weeks of submitting their application.”
But over the past month, more than two dozen people have reached out to 11 investigators and told us that they are still having problems.
Evan of Ross Township wrote an email saying, âI opened my claim in August. It’s December now and I still haven’t received any compensation. “
Adam from Connellsville told us, âI’ve been trying to log into the system for 3 weeks to submit an initial application. The PA’s unemployment ruined Christmas for me personally. “
And John of South Fayette said, âPA unemployment is ruining my life and giving me the worst vacation for my family. I lose everything week after week. “
Ticket numbers are increasing
If applicants have a problem and contact the state, they will be issued a ticket number and told that someone will be in touch. It was 8 weeks before Donna finally got a call and that made her even more frustrated.
âYou called and said there was no update. We’re still processing your application, âDonna told 11 Investigates. âI said should I put in another ticket? You said that would only widen the gap. “
Now she is suspended again and continues to wait.
The state declined to give an interview, but in an email to 11 Investigates, Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry press secretary Alex Peterson blamed the delays on regulatory issues:
âThose who don’t have eligibility issues get payments immediately upon submission – there is no delay. If questions about an applicant’s eligibility need to be clarified, the waiting time is usually longer. Even without a backlog, we would like to point out to the public that it can take 6-8 weeks until all authorization problems are resolved. The waiting time can vary depending on the individual problems that arise. “
It took the state three months to resolve a severance issue on Darby’s account. The Department of Labor finally emailed her on December 3rd saying, “The payments have been approved … and she should expect to receive them in 2 to 3 days.”
Now, three weeks later, she has not yet received any of the money. She is owed more than $ 7,579 and she had to get a new ticket number, which is around 520,000. For the perspective, that of the state Reported unemployed website it processed ticket numbers of around 436,000 on Thursday.
The state explained the ticketing number procedure in an email to 11 investigates:
âThe number shown on our website as currently served is the lowest ticket number that was completed that day; However, employees could actively work on higher ticket numbers that have not yet been finalized. The time it takes to clarify a request depends on the circumstances of the individual case. Duplicate tickets from a single applicant also have an impact on waiting times. “
They offered this advice to applicants who had a waiting period:
- Look for a confirmation email about your submitted claim, either by email or by post, whichever you chose
- Make sure your current contact details are saved:
- Phone number
- If you’ve recently moved or changed your number or email address, please update your profile
- If UC employees get in touch with you, please respond immediately
Slimmed down Christmas
Donna and Darby did all of these things and say the problem is with the end of the state. They are particularly frustrated at how difficult it is for the state to get in touch with them.
“Unanswered emails, no chat, no text messages, no calls – you wait forever,” said Donna.
She and her daughter want the state to do more to fix the system they say is broken.
“I’ve been paying into the system for 44 years and now that I need it they are no longer there for me,” said Donna. âI’m always afraid that no money will come in. All of my savings are gone, the small savings, they’re all gone. Christmas is very slim this year. “
âThere are real people who cannot meet their needs. So help. Help. Please, âDarby pleaded.
Last week, the Labor Department told 11 Investigates that they had 69,000 employee action tickets but would not give us an update on Thursday.
If you’re one of those people expecting an unemployment check over the holidays, expect a 2 to 3 day delay for the next week.
Click here to check the schedule for payment delays.