By John Ostapkovich
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Pennsylvania Legislature is expected to take up a bill today to increase funding for the processing of unemployment compensation claims, which the Feds say has been too slow.
Julia Hearthway, Secretary of Labor and Industry, acknowledges missing the federal metric for first check issuance in the latest quarterly report card, but says the department had previously been criticized for paying claimants too much.
Hearthway says there’s claim accuracy to consider. “You need to verify that what the claimant’s telling you is accurate and that they are eligible and that they are eligible for it that week and you need to balance that by getting the payment out as quickly as possible.”
The difference is in the checking of paperwork, for example someone making Y, and laid off on a Thursday, and the employer says, “No, they were making X, not, Y, or wasn’t really furloughed on Thursday. It was Friday, but we let everybody go on Thursday. It makes a difference.”
Hearthway says the Feds cut $30 million for administrative expenses, and Sharon Dietrich of Community Legal Services says the pain rolled downhill.
“As a cost-cutting measure, the state closed one of the eight U.C. (unemployment compensation) service centers and it was the one in Philadelphia and laid off all the staff.”
So, Dietrich says she too is looking to Harrisburg. “I’m actually pretty hopeful because the state legislature is considering several bills that would provide for supplemental funding so that more staff can be hired so the U.C. system can run better.”