Upgrades to Va.’s unemployment system aim to expedite disputed claims

Hundreds of new staffers — and upgrades to customer-service technology — are expected to help Virginia’s unemployment insurance system expedite the adjudication of questionable claims.

The Virginia Employment Commission is investing $20 million in the state’s 41-year-old benefits system, which had begun a major modernization project before it was slowed down by pandemic demands.

Executive Directive 16 requires the agency to add 300 new adjudication staffers and fully modernize the commonwealth’s unemployment insurance system by October. The goal is to have 20,000 unemployment claims processed every week by July 31, compared with the 5,700 being resolved weekly now.

Federal law requires claims flagged for potential ineligibility or fraud to be adjudicated before potentially proceeding with payment. Most individuals involved in the adjudication process are ultimately denied benefits.

Since the pandemic started, Virginia’s unemployment insurance (UI) system has helped more than 1.3 million people receive $12.9 billion in benefits, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

“Approximately 85 percent of Virginia applicants receive unemployment benefits within the first 21 days, making Virginia sixth in the nation — and first in the Mid-Atlantic region — for delivering unemployment benefits to eligible individuals,” the statement said.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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