State launches new online unemployment benefits system

The state launched a new system Monday that allows job seekers to file unemployment insurance claims online, although some users were unable to access the website for several hours in the morning and got a busy signal when they called the phone numbers listed for assistance.

The technical difficulties were resolved by noon, according to the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, although the error message remained on the site all day.

The online self-service system lets people apply for unemployment insurance benefits, request weekly payments, and check the status of claims or payments. The state launched a similar system for employers in December of 2009 that enabled them to file quarterly employment and wage information, and pay taxes, over the Internet. The employer site also experienced a few glitches in the beginning, and the state had to hire 30 customer service representatives to help businesses navigate the new system.

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The online filing systems are part of a $46 million effort to improve the technology used to collect unemployment insurance taxes and pay benefits.

The new online system for job seekers is available from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Users can also continue to use the phone system to file claims or access benefits.

The Department of Unemployment Assistance had assisted more than 41,000 customers through the online and automated phone system by midafternoon on Monday. On an average Monday, about 41,000 people request weekly benefits.