Alabama Implements New Strategies as UI Claims Overwhelm Current Structure
On April 21, 2020, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey held a press conference that addressed business concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and included an update from the Alabama Department of Labor (ADOL). As the governor eyes reopening Alabama’s economy, the disruptions of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continue to cause an unprecedented number of unemployment claims to be filed in the state. ADOL Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said during the press conference that the number of state unemployment compensation claims had exceeded 300,000. ADOL has implemented new procedures in an attempt to expedite the processing of claims.
Cloud-Based System and New Call Center
The increased number of filings in Alabama has been accompanied by a record number of visits to the ADOL unemployment insurance portal and phone calls to ADOL agents. In response to the increase, the ADOL has moved the unemployment insurance portal to a cloud-based system. Additionally, in response to the increased volume, ADOL has contracted with an outside call center to assist in processing calls.
Unemployment Tracker Tool
In addition, an unemployment insurance claim tracker has been introduced to assist claimants with getting answers to questions about their claims. Already, hundreds of thousands of Alabamians are currently utilizing this tool. In order to sign in, a claimant must use the last four digits of his or her Social Security number and a personal identification number (PIN) that the claimant can create.
The tracker tool includes the following features:
- What is my claim status? This identifies whether the claim is in the system and whether the claimant is eligible for benefits.
- What happens next? This pinpoints for the claimant the steps that are needed to move the claim or payment forward.
- When will I get paid? This portion identifies the payment amount the claimant is entitled to each week, when the next payment is scheduled, and when the claimant can expect to see the payment in his or her bank account.
- What have I already been paid? This portion of the tool identifies each payment received including the date received, the amount, and any applicable deductions.
- I need to reset my personal identification number (PIN). This allows the claimant to reset his or her PIN without requiring assistance from an ADOL staff member.
Secretary Washington commented on ADOL’s efforts: “ADOL is working hard to get these important benefits out to Alabamians in this tremendous time of need. More than $164 million in benefits have been pushed out to those who have become unemployed due to this pandemic,” he said.
As of April 20, 2020, approximately 40 percent of the unemployment claims filed with ADOL had been processed. ADOL’s introduction of a cloud-based unemployment insurance portal, additional employees in the call center, and claim tracker tool is expected to assist the agency in processing claims more quickly.