Mullery, Hanbidge introduce bill to improve overburdened unemployment compensation system

HARRISBURG, Feb. 17 -- In response to numerous Pennsylvanians reporting difficulties applying for and receiving unemployment benefits amid the COVID-19 pandemic, state Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne, and state Rep. Liz Hanbidge, D-Montgomery, have introduced a bill to make critical improvements to PA’s Unemployment Compensation system.

“There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has overburdened our UC system; however, that is unacceptable for the thousands of Pennsylvanians trying to make ends meet and put food on their tables,” Mullery said. “Our proposal would simplify some of the most common roadblocks folks applying for benefits say they are running into.”

House Bill 549 would make the following changes to the UC Law:

  • Permanently eliminate the “waiting week” that makes claimants ineligible for benefits during the first week of unemployment.
  • Eliminate credit weeks from the process of verifying income, which too regularly causes delays in benefits and confusion amongst employers and claimants.
  • Eliminate severance pay requirements to minimize the occurrence of claims being sent to UC examiners for review, which further delays claims processing.
  • Streamline the Shared Work Program to help claimants access benefits in a timelier manner.

Said Hanbidge: “This past year has created numerous, insurmountable challenges for families and the time for action is now to get people paid faster and to get claims processed quicker.”

House Bill 549 is awaiting committee assignment for further review and consideration.