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Computer issues delaying unemployment checks

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on Nov. 29, 2010 at 3:12 pm with No Comments »
November 29, 2010 3:32 pm

Some 250,000 former Washington workers won’t won’t be seeing their unemployment payments showing up at the usual time this week.

A weekend reprogramming of the state’s Employment Security computers is taking longer than expected said Employment Security spokeswoman Sheryl Hutchinson.

Unemployment benefits could be as much as two or three days late, she said, depending upon whether the unemployed receive their benefits by direct deposit or by mail. Direct deposit claimants could see their benefits hit their banks as early as Wednesday, with mail recipients seeing checks later this week. Some 50 percent of Washington unemployment recipients still receive their benefits by mail.

State workers labored through the holiday weekend to reprogram the state’s antiquated computer system to cope with the coming elimination of emergency unemployment benefits.

Those 53 extra weeks of unemployment benefits could be ending in December if Congress fails to renew them.

That would mean the duration of unemployment benefits could fall from the present 99 weeks to 46 weeks.

Because of the way the unemployment compensation system is structured, claimants will finish the tier of emergency unemployment they are in before moving on to extended benefits.

The new computer programming will allow the state to determine how many weeks recipients have remaining before transitioning to the extended benefits.

When emergency benefits were begun as the recession developed, the state chose not to reprogram its computers then, Hutchinson said.

The reprogramming then would have meant a three or four month delay in delivering checks. Instead, the state opted to do most of the programming work during the intervening months.

The last bit of work was to have been finished last weekend, but problems developed that required additional adjustment, she said.

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