VEC continues to address backlog of claims

A senior advisor to Governor Ralph Northam updated lawmakers on efforts by the Virginia...
A senior advisor to Governor Ralph Northam updated lawmakers on efforts by the Virginia Employment Commission to deal with the crush of claims.(WDBJ7)
Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 7:31 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - The Virginia Employment Commission continues to address a major backlog of claims, by expanding operations and improving technology.

But Wednesday, state lawmakers continued to press for better communication with people who are waiting for benefits.

During a meeting of the House Appropriations Committee, the Governor’s Chief Workforce Advisor accentuated the volume of work the pandemic created and the efforts the agency has taken to deal with the crush of claims.

Megan Healy said the state continues to hire more people, and improve the technology that can speed their response.

“I would say we did about ten years of unemployment claims in ten months,” Healy told the committee.

She told members of the House Appropriations Committee the number of claims skyrocketed, from 124,000 in the year preceding the pandemic to 1.6 million since mid-March 2020.

She said the VEC has expanded, from a staff of 800 to more than 2,000 employees and contractors.

And Healy said close to 85 percent of the people who apply receive their benefits within 21 days.

Members of the Committee acknowledged the challenge, but said the agency needs to do a better job of communicating with Virginians whose claims require more extensive reviews.

“I just want to impress on your office how critical it is that these cases that go to adjudication, that we are trying to help navigate the system, are kept in a much better communication loop,” said Del. Paul Krizek (D-Fairfax Co.).

The agency also continues to upgrade its technology. The third phase of a modernization project goes online in October.

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