N.J. system that handles unemployment benefits is still down. State says it’s working on the problem. – lehighvalleylive.com - Freelance Rack

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Sunday, April 26, 2020

N.J. system that handles unemployment benefits is still down. State says it’s working on the problem. – lehighvalleylive.com

New Jerseyans, already frustrated with delays in getting approval for unemployment claims, have been coping with a widespread system outage since Sunday morning.

As of 6:45 p.m. Sunday, the system still wasn’t back online.

This is the first widespread outage for an antiquated system that’s been flooded with an unprecedented number of claims during the coronavirus pandemic.

The state Labor Department confirmed that workers seeking to claim their weekly benefits online or file a new unemployment claims have been unable to do so.

“We have been working feverishly to identify the source of the problem and correct it as quickly as possible,” the state said. “We expect to be fully operational by Monday when we will post an updated schedule for customers who were scheduled to certify for unemployment on Sunday.”

“We understand workers’ frustration over this unplanned event, and apologize for the inconvenience it has caused,” the state said.

NJ Advance Media first heard of the outage from applicants who were trying to “certify” benefits, a process that must be done every week, sometime after 9 a.m. on Sunday.

A short time later, the Labor Department said the entire application system was also down.

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With the system’s continued failure, those who are already getting benefits were wondering if the outage will cause their benefit payments to be delayed.

But the Labor Department told claimants not to worry.

“Claimants will be able to certify for unemployment benefits on a revised schedule once the system is back online. Please check back for updates,” the website said.

Claimant Janet Garafano said she was still concerned because she can’t just call in to certify.

“There is no way to get through to the numbers provided.” she said. “I know not certifying on time, even just once, your benefits will be terminated.”

She said she applied March 29 but she hasn’t received benefits. And, she has other concerns about the system.

“I worked as a project manager in technology and the most important phase of software development is testing,” Garafano said. “That includes stress testing to simulate volumes of users to see how the system reacts. This system may have initially been implemented 40 years ago, but I can assure you it has had many, many updates and upgrades over those 40 years. Pointing the finger does not help the people in my position.”

The Labor Department didn’t immediately respond to requests to comment about what went wrong.

We’ll keep you posted on what happens next.

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Karin Price Mueller may be reached at bamboozled@njadvancemedia.com.



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