VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Major upgrades to the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) are being delayed once again.
The overhaul to the outdated unemployment system was supposed to happen on November 1, but it’s now being pushed back an entire week. Megan Healy, who oversees the VEC, said the decision to delay the temporary system shutdown for the update was made Thursday morning.
The multi-year improvement project was expected to be finished in the middle of 2020 but was put off because of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the VEC, this latest setback is because the upgrades would have interfered with the agency’s deadline to process its tax records.
The whiplash is causing headaches for many, including Ray Ickes of Virginia Beach.
“It’s very frustrating,” he said.
Ickes has been waiting for answers from the VEC about his unemployment status for nearly three months.
“The problem is when you call, what you talk to is a bunch of computers,” Ickes said. “You don't even talk to anybody real.”
The former 7-Eleven employee said he was laid off at the end of July and has been bounced around Virginia’s unemployment system ever since.
“I think it's disorganized,” said Ickes.
The long-awaited upgrade to the agency’s outdated system has been stalled until November 8. That was supposed to be the new launch date following two other delays in the last several weeks.
A spokesperson for the VEC said the delays were needed to give them more time to train staff and run tests to make sure the new system is working.
The overhaul can’t come soon enough for Ickes.
“You have to go through so many different types of screens to even apply,” he said. “It could be more user friendly.”
The new unemployment system will streamline the process when filing a claim and allow people to access more information about their benefits. It’ll help eliminate the need to call the busy customer care center and wait on hold.
Ickes is staying optimistic as he continues to weigh different job prospects.
“Hopefully, the people in the future that have to apply don't have to go through the rigmarole trying to get their money,” said Ickes.
The system updates are also meant to cut back on issues with fraud.
During the changeover, the customer call center will be closed. Appeals filed through the website will not be interrupted.
The system is expected to be back up and running after one week on Monday, November 15.
During the temporary shutdown, people will have to file their claim before 2 p.m. on November 8 so they don’t miss a payment.
For more information on the system changeover, click here.