Pennsylvanians unable to get unemployment checks for months because of "system breakdown" and staffing issues

Kristen Walters

Some Pennsylvania residents have reported that they have been waiting for months to collect their unemployment checks. The reason given by the PA Office of Unemployment Compensations was that the system "was not set up to withstand" the stress of a pandemic mixed with widespread fraud.

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Unemployment compensation was designed to be a financial safety net for people who suddenly found themselves laid off or out of work due to no fault of their own.

Historically, workers who lost their jobs could simply fill out an application for unemployment benefits with the Pennsylvania Office of Unemployment Compensation and start receiving checks within a week or two. As a result, millions of people rely on unemployment benefits to buy food and pay bills temporarily until they are able to get back on their feet financially.

But for some Pennsylvania residents, the financial safety net of unemployment benefits wasn't there when they needed it the most.

For example, Christine McClusus told local reporters that she had lost her job in August, but she still has not been able to file a claim for unemployment benefits. In McClucus's case, someone fraudulently filed a claim using her identity. She reported, "getting someone on the phone to help has been difficult."

Another Pennsylvania woman, Veronica Tobin, said that the same thing happened to her. So far, she has been unable to claim unemployment benefits because someone else filed a false claim using her information.

The state has not been able to help her solve the issue even though the problem occurred because of a vulnerability in their system.

According to a Pennsylvania unemployment agency representative, their systems "was not set up to withstand that sort of stress." They are currently battling a backlog of cases similar to those reported by McClausus and Tobin but don't have enough staff to handle these issues in a timely manner.

Unfortunately, in situations like this where state agencies are not adequately prepared, despite repeated warnings from experts, it is the citizens who depend on these services who suffer the most.

Have you had issues filing for unemployment compensation in Pennsylvania?

Let us know in the comments.

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