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VEC delays rollout of new unemployment system again, overhaul now set for Nov. 8

The Virginia Employment Commission will launch a new unemployment system on Nov. 8. Access to file claims and get help will be shut down during the transition.

NORFOLK, Va. — The Virginia Employment Commission is delaying the rollout of its new unemployment insurance system again, moving the launch date back to Nov. 8.

The VEC previously planned the online system overhaul to occur in 2020, before delaying it due to the pandemic. State leaders then set the launch date for early October, before delaying it to Nov. 1, and now changing it to Nov. 8.

Megan Healy, the Virginia Secretary of Labor, previously told 13News Now the delay of the system launch from October to November was due to a need for more "user testing and training."

To avoid a delay in payments, unemployed Virginians need to file their weekly claims by 2 p.m. that day. 

After that, the online portal likely will be down for several days during the transition. During this time, claimants won't be able to access their accounts or talk to agents for help.

State leaders say the new online system will allow unemployed workers to file claims for benefits more easily, access documents, and view and resolve issues that could be blocking payments.

RELATED: Review paints dire picture of Virginia Employment Commission

Healy said the new system will be a huge upgrade.

“It looks like if you’re looking at your bank account, definitely modern, our other system is 40 years old," she previously told 13News Now. "Each person will have a claimant portal."

To help with a backlog of unresolved claims, Healy said the new system will cut down on the time needed for staffers to conduct “fact-finding interviews," allowing claimants to provide more information about their employment status.

"Now they can list different reasons why they quit their job and put their comments - before that was just on the application and we’d have to have an adjudication officer call them, ask lots of questions, call them back again," she said. "But all that information is going to be on that initial application which will be helpful for our VEC staff."

The VEC plans to shut down its unemployment system on the same day the Joint Legislative and Audit Review Committee releases its final review of the VEC’s issues during the pandemic. 

JLARC previously found a growing backlog of unresolved claims. It also detailed extreme call center problems and estimated the VEC issued nearly a billion dollars in incorrect payments in 2020.

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