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Virginia upgrades unemployment system

Unemployment Benefits
This April 22, 2014, file photo shows an employment application form on a table during a job fair at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson, N.Y. The Labor Department released its weekly report on applications for unemployment benefits on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016. Slightly more Americans sought unemployment benefits during the previous week, but the overall levels still remain near historic lows in a positive sign for the job market. (Mike Groll/AP)

Virginia upgrades unemployment system

November 23, 08:00 PM November 23, 08:00 PM

The Virginia Employment Commission launched an upgraded unemployment system last week designed to make it more modern.

Under the new system, customers can access documents online and view a customer dashboard for claims filing status and other inquiry investment. According to the VEC, its changes to claims filing were also upgraded to improve user experience.

The changes are the third and final phase of a multi-year effort to modernize VEC systems.

“We are extremely proud of the work our team has invested in this effort,” VEC Commissioner Ellen Marie Hess said in a statement. “We look forward to the improvements this system will provide to our customers.”

The VEC faced harsh criticism and even a class-action lawsuit for how it handled nonmonetary eligibility cases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the department was legally required to process these cases within three weeks, it failed to meet that deadline in 95% of cases, according to a lawsuit filed in April. Most reviews took 10 weeks or longer to process, but some dragged out for more than a year.

Officials blamed the slow processing on an uptick in cases caused by the pandemic, a lack of personnel and the need for upgrades. A judge ordered the VEC to double the number of cases it adjudicates every week and to clear the backlog. Although the VEC met the judge’s order, the lawsuit is still in effect and the court is monitoring the additional case pile-up that occured during that time period.

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