The Department has been announcing its new unemployment portal.
The problem with this new portal is that basic functionality and information remains unchanged. All that has happened is that the Department has replaced a few menu commands with some new icons. The confusing messages about claim status, the lack of access to the legal documents that decide claim status like benefit year calculations remain, and the multiple layers and clicks to find key information and documents that might or might not be available are still present. Furthermore, there is still no instruction or guidance from the Department about how to navigate the portal to accomplish vital tasks, like appealing an initial determination.
One of the first problems claimants will notice is that not all commands/tools are available to all claimants. For instance, the Department is advertising how claimants can now upload documents. But, that feature is only available to certain claimants when the Department itself decides that those claimants need that ability. The portal for the PUA claimant shown below lacks the
document upload tool.
Looking for issues and determinations leads to a confusing and incomplete presentation in which only the current issues and determinations are listed. Clicking on the
takes claimants to a
Determinations and Appeals page:
This listing, however, only provides current determinations and appeals. Determinations that have NOT been appealed but which are still denying benefits are NOT listed here.
The issue listed at the top for each of these determinations, moreover, do NOT at all describe the initial determinations themselves.
Furthermore, there may be other determinations for which no initial determination was issued. Click on
View Determinations History to see what other determinations might be connected to you.
Here, more determinations connected to you may appear:
In this screenshot, there are now four determinations rather than just the two that have been appealed.
The one for the week 26/2019 indicates that a quit in 2019 is NOT disqualifying because the claimant subsequently earned enough wages to satisfy any disqualification connected to that quit. There is no initial determination connected to this listing. And, there are two for week 15/2020: one disqualifying the claimant issued on 10/28/2020 (which per the Determinations screen above we can see that the claimant has appealed) and another issued on 7/24/2020 finding the claimant eligible for PUA benefits. Finally, there is a determination for week 31/2020 that was issued on 12/31/2020 finding that the claimant quit a job and so is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits (per the Determinations screen above, we can see that this determination also was appealed).
These are NOT all the documents available to this claimant, however. The
Document History option detailed below remains the only viable option for seeing all the documents connected to an unemployment claim.
The appeals option is problematic as well. Selecting
will only show the determinations that can still be appealed. Determinations for which an appeal would be late are NOT listed.
To find an appeal online for an older initial determination, claimants have to click on the
Find Determination button, enter the number of the initial determination they want to appeal, and then click on still another
Find Determination button.
The initial determination number is the number in the upper left corner of initial determination.
Since most claimants do not track these initial determination numbers, this requirement for an initial determination number for finding an old initial determination creates a major roadblock for filing any late appeals.
Finally, the claim status messages remain as confusing as ever. These messages are generated when a Department staffer does anything involving an unemployment claim. They do NOT reflect the actual legal status of the claim.
Claimants should continue to ignore these messages because they often mean nothing and can actually be misleading.
So, the portal’s usefulness remains limited to two tasks: a claimant’s document history and a claimant’s benefit payment history. Here is how those tasks work with the new portal.
Document History will list some of the important documents connected to your claim, and it provides a central location for finding those documents on your portal.
To get to your
Document History, follow these steps.
1. Click on the
Menu button on the upper-right corner of the screen.
2. After clicking on
Menu, you will see a screen similar to the following:
3. Click on the
Document History option.
Document History screen is then revealed.
5. Click on the
View button next to each document to see that specific document. Notice that initial determinations, appeals, appeal confirmations, and telephone hearing packets — labeled as
Telephone Instructions — are available here.
Benefit payment history
In contrast to the document history process, claimants’ access to their benefit payment history has been improved.
1. Click on the
Print Benefit Statements icon.
2. The following screen is presented to you.
3. Make sure the checkbox
By choosing to create a formal summary, I acknowledge that it will include personal infromation such as my name and Social Security Number is checked and that
Create a PDF document is selected.
4. Click on the
Create Document button.
5. A PDF printout of your benefit claim and payment history will appear on your screen or be prompted to be downloaded.
Sending a PDF document via e-mail
Do NOT send any PDF documents via e-mail message that have confidential information like social security numbers or bank account information. Initial claims/applications and telephone hearing packets/instructions almost always have raw social security numbers visible to anyone.
- On a smart phone: when viewing the PDF, click on the share button and then select the e-mail option. Make sure to then write in an e-mail address and a subject.
- On a desktop: download the PDF document, start up your e-mail program, and then attach the PDF to a new e-mail address that you are sending to someone (make sure to fill out a subject and to whom the message is being sent).