For Immediate Release - July 01, 2013

MASSACHUSETTS MODERNIZES UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE (UI) SYSTEM

New online system streamlines UI payments; offers more convenience for job seekers and employers; safeguards against fraud

BOSTON – Monday, July 1, 2013 – The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development’s Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) today launched UI Online, a modern, web-based system that replaces Massachusetts’ outdated and fragmented unemployment insurance (UI) computer system.  

UI Online provides easier access to services for employers and job seekers, streamlines the claims process and strengthens the state’s ability to prevent, detect and rectify UI fraud. These improvements will enhance the delivery of UI benefits for customers across the state, without changing the UI program itself, which provides eligible claimants with temporary income protection while unemployed. 

“The development and launch of UI Online modernizes the way we do business and the ease with which claimants and employers can access the system,” said Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Joanne F. Goldstein. “UI Online is a dynamic tool that keeps up with technology, more efficiently serves both job seekers and employers and significantly improves the integrity of the unemployment insurance system.”

DUA has dedicated resources to enhance the state’s UI system, a once paper-based system that has expanded over time to include access by phone and a limited web program for processing weekly unemployment insurance requests for benefits. UI Online now allows the convenience of self-service, while providing both job seekers and employers one-stop access to benefits, revenue and hearings systems. Job seekers may use UI Online to apply for UI benefits, reopen existing claims, request weekly benefits, check payment or claim status, sign up for direct deposit or tax withholding and update personal information quickly and easily.

DUA is offering a number of ways for customers to access the improved system. UI Online will be available to customers from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. For customers choosing to use the phone system, DUA staff will continue to be available via phone service. Phone hours will expand to 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. until August 2nd.  

By noon today, DUA had already served over 28,000 UI customers. These job seekers were able to request their weekly benefit payments through the online system or the automated telephone system.  DUA staff assisted thousands more over the telephone.

As part of UI Online’s development, DUA embarked on a comprehensive outreach effort, notifying claimants, employers, legislators and elected officials and other stakeholders about the launch of UI Online to help familiarize users with the new system’s advantages and tools.

“These new self-service options will help improve the UI claims process by more quickly resolving issues between employers and claimants,” said Director of DUA Michelle Amante. “Replacing manual processes with modern technology also helps DUA staff provide better and more direct service to customers.”

In addition to these enhancements, UI Online also provides comprehensive improvements to support the integrity of the state’s UI program. Historically, DUA has used multiple methods to detect and investigate potential fraud by either claimants or employers including data mining and information cross-matches. To ensure program integrity and help safeguard against fraud, UI Online will offer better technology and increased capacity for DUA to launch additional cross-matches. DUA anticipates that these new tools will allow the state to further recapture millions of dollars from fraud, overpayments or employer failures to pay UI assessments.

As part of the Patrick Administration’s overall efforts to make government more efficient, DUA will also begin issuing payments to eligible claimants through direct deposit or debit card. Paper checks will no longer be issued, saving the Commonwealth approximately $1 million annually.

"This latest phase of UI Online builds on the streamlined services currently available for employers," said John Regan, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs for the Associated Industries of Massachusetts and member of the DUA Advisory Council. "We applaud DUA for moving forward with this enhanced system, offering improved resources for Massachusetts employers and expanding efforts to prevent potential fraud."

UI Online offers a modern alternative for employers and job seekers interfacing with the state’s unemployment insurance agency,” said Rich Marlin, Legislative Director for the Massachusetts Building Trades and member of the DUA Advisory Council. “DUA has taken the time to engage with stakeholders ranging from claimants to local career centers to introduce customers to this new initiative and assist with the transition.”

UI Online is the latest phase in DUA’s ongoing initiative to overhaul its information technology infrastructure and improve customer service for both job seekers and employers. DUA’s modernization project began in December 2009, when the agency launched a web-based revenue system for all Massachusetts employers. This enabled employers to electronically file their quarterly wage and employment information and also electronically pay their taxes. UI Online now integrates all necessary functionality, including UI benefits and appeals, into one system.

DUA provides UI benefits to workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own and who are able to work, available for work and looking for employment. Funding for UI benefits comes from quarterly contributions paid by the state's employers; no deductions are made from workers' salaries or state tax revenues. Requirements of the program are determined by both state and federal law.

For customer support during the transition or to learn more about the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance, visit www.mass.gov/dua.

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