Category Archives: Bulletin
PA UC & ID ME
L&I Extends Partnership with Identity Verification Vendor ID. Me to Reduce Unemployment Compensation Claim Fraud Attempts
Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier announced today that the department’s partnership with virtual identity verification vendor ID.me has been extended to provide identity verification for all new Unemployment Compensation (UC) claims.
“We take unemployment benefit fraud very seriously at L&I, and we are committed to working with our partners to prevent fraudulent claims and hold those responsible accountable for their actions,” said Secretary Berrier. “Through our partnership with ID.me for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, we were able to prevent millions of dollars in taxpayer money from being stolen by fraudsters. By using ID.me for the Unemployment Compensation program, we can replicate this success.”
L&I first announced a partnership with ID.me in September after a surge of fraudulent claims were detected in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which is a special program created by the federal government to provide unemployment benefits to individuals who lost their job due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are not typically eligible for UC. The fraudulent claims are not caused by a data leak or breach at L&I – they are being filed by fraudsters using identities stolen from data leaks that occurred outside of state government. ID.me adds a layer of security to L&I’s already robust antifraud measures by requiring individuals filing a new claim to verify their identity.
While fraudsters initially targeted the PUA program, recently L&I has noticed an uptick in fraudulent UC claims. The majority of fraudulent UC claims are stopped before payment occurs through other antifraud tactics. ID.me will catch many fraudulent claims when they are first submitted, allowing L&I staff to direct attention to other issues and preventing the individuals whose identities were stolen and their employers from needing to take any action. The use of ID.me also deters fraudsters from attempting to file fraudulent claims, as demonstrated by a reduction in fraud attempts shortly after ID.me was put in place for the PUA program.
The identity verification step through ID.me has been integrated into the process to file an initial application and takes just a few minutes. As individuals log into benefits.uc.pa.gov for the first time, they will be walked through the steps of verifying their identity through ID.me.
L&I encourages individuals to remain vigilant about guarding their personal and confidential information and to monitor for signs that their information is being used fraudulently. Signs of fraud include:
- Individuals receiving unrequested unemployment paperwork from L&I’s Office of Unemployment Compensation.
- Individuals receiving unemployment benefit payments they did not apply for from the Pennsylvania Treasury.
- Employers receiving notice that a claim has been opened for a current employee who is actively working, or an unknown person.
Pennsylvania DLI – How do I verify my identity for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (DLI) if I received an email?
For tips and best practices for selecting and uploading acceptable identity documents, click here.
ID.me has entered a partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (DLI) to facilitate Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
First, check to make sure that identity verification is required:
1. Navigate to your Pennsylvania PUA Benefits Portal.
2. After you login, navigate to the My Benefits Plan widget for a summary of the issues with your claim.
3. Scroll to the Outstanding Claim Issues section.
4. Identity verification is required only if IP- Investigation Case Special Project Scheme System is listed as an issue. (If it is not listed, refer to this guide for help with any other issues.)
First, check to make sure that identity verification is required:
- Navigate to your Pennsylvania PUA Benefits Portal.
- After you login, navigate to the My Benefits Plan widget for a summary of the issues with your claim.
- Scroll to the Outstanding Claim Issues section.
- Identity verification is required only if IP- Investigation Case Special Project Scheme System is listed as an issue. (If it is not listed, refer to this guide for help with any other issues.)
To verify your identity:
1. If you were sent a notification email through your PUA dashboard, click the link in that message to visit the website, then click the green Verify with ID.me button.
2. You will be directed to the ID.me sign-in page.
You can sign in to your existing ID.me account, or create a new one.
3. Confirm your email address.
4. Select a multi-factor authentication option.
5. Verify your identity.
Select Driver’s license or state ID, Passport, or Passport card to upload.
You can take a photo with your mobile device or upload from your computer.
6. If you chose to take a photo with your device, follow the onscreen prompts.
You’ll be asked to input your phone number. ID.me will send you a text message with a link to your smartphone to take photos of your ID.
7. When prompted, take and submit a selfie.
8. Enter all other requested information, including your Social Security number
9. Review and confirm to and click Continue.
10. At the end of the process, be sure to click Allow and continue.
This step shares your identity information with DLI.
If you are not able to complete the verification process due to an issue with your documentation, you will be routed to verify your identity over a video call with a Trusted Referee. Wait times may vary. You will need to show your identity documents to a Trusted Referee along with a selfie (a photo of yourself) to complete your verification.
After your identity verification is successful, DLI will email you through your dashboard (usually within one day) to confirm your verification.
Meeting Pennsylvania Work Search Requirements
Work Search Requirements will restart the week July 11-17, 2021.
Work search requires all Unemployment Compensation (UC), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claimants to apply for two jobs and complete one work search activity every week.
The Work Search Question
The UC/PUA Benefits system will ask you the following question for each claim week:
“[Your First Name], Did you complete your required work searches and/or work search activities during the week beginning Sunday, [date], and ending with Saturday
You must choose to answer “Yes” or “No” to advance to the next weekly certification question.
Select “Yes” if you completed your work search activities for the week.
If you are exempt, you will select “Yes”. For more information about exemptions, please refer to the question, “Can I be exempt from work search requirements?” for a list of individual exemptions.
Select “No” if you are not exempt and you did not perform the work search. You may be denied benefits for this claim week.
What are Work Search Activities?
- Attending a job fair
- Searching open positions on PA CareerLink® or job posting boards
- Creating and uploading a resume to PA CareerLink® or job posting boards
- Seeking networking opportunities
- Using an employment agency, employment registry, or school placement service.
- Taking a civil service test or other pre-employment tests.
- Participating in a training workshop or event offered through PA CareerLink
Note: If you live outside of Pennsylvania, you may participate in these types of activities offered by your state employment service.
How do I know if I have met the work search requirements?
You may use the chart below to verify that you have satisfied the UC work search requirements.
If you are able to check one box in each column, you have satisfied your UC work search requirements for the week.
Do I need to track my activities?
Yes. L&I may request to see your work search activities at any time for two years from the effective date of your claim. Do not send your work search record to the Department unless it is requested. However, you may choose to upload documents to the dashboard for safekeeping. To upload documents, log in to your benefits portal and navigate to “Unemployment Services” from the homepage, choose “Provide Additional Documentation” then “Upload a Document” to keep your work search records on file. Failure to provide your work search record upon request may result in ineligibility for benefits and liability to repay the benefits you have received.
You may use the Work Search Record (or Español) PDF, for tracking your activities, but it is not required if you have another way of tracking the same information.
|Reminder: Status Updates of New UC System|
|Want to learn more about the status of updates to the new UC system? We’re posting regularly Facebook – www.facebook.com/PALaborIndustry/ Twitter – https://twitter.com/palaborindustry Banners on the website and the UC system login page The UC System Check Enhancements Tracker|
|Keystone ID Help|
|Need help navigating the new Keystone ID login process? You can call the UC helpline at 1-888-313-7284 and choose option 3 from the menu to speak to a customer service representative who specializes in Keystone ID. The UC helpline is available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.|
UE local 506 Bulletin 5/17/21
UE Local 506
Pennsylvania Extended Benefits (EB) Program Ends
The Extended Benefits (EB) program will end in Pennsylvania, due to the declining unemployment rate. The last payable week of Extended Benefits (EB) is the week ending May 15, 2021.
Individuals who had been collecting EB will transition back to federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). This transition will be automatic, meaning claimants do not need to do anything to be moved from EB to PEUC. Additionally, the change in program will not cause any changes in the filing process or benefit amount.
Extended Benefits (EB) were additional Unemployment Compensation benefits payable to qualified workers when an “Extended Benefit Period” occurs in Pennsylvania. An EB period begins following the third week after the unemployment rate reached a certain level determined by law then triggers off after it falls below that same level.
The most recent EB period began May 3, 2020, but benefits were not payable until an individual had exhausted PEUC benefits. Therefore, EB payments were only payable from week ending July 4, 2020 through week ending May 15, 2021.
The EB weekly benefit rate (WBR) was the same as the rate payable to individuals on their qualifying regular unemployment compensation claim, including dependents’ allowances (DA).
FAQS ABOUT COBRA PREMIUM ASSISTANCE UNDER THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT OF 2021
I have heard that the ARP included temporary COBRA premium assistance to pay for health coverage. I would like more information.
The ARP provides temporary premium assistance for COBRA continuation coverage for Assistance Eligible Individuals (see Q3 to determine if you are eligible). COBRA allows certain people to extend employment-based group health plan coverage, if they would otherwise lose the coverage due to certain life events such as loss of a job. Individuals may be eligible for premium assistance if they are eligible for and elect COBRA continuation coverage because of their own or a family member’s reduction in hours or an involuntary termination from employment. This premium assistance is available for periods of coverage from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021. This premium assistance is generally available for continuation coverage under the Federal COBRA provisions, as well as for group health insurance coverage under comparable state continuation coverage (“mini-COBRA”) laws. If you were offered Federal COBRA continuation coverage as a result of a reduction in hours or an involuntary termination of employment, and you declined to take COBRA continuation coverage at that time, or you elected Federal COBRA continuation coverage and later discontinued it, you may have another opportunity to elect COBRA continuation coverage and receive the premium assistance, if the maximum period you would have been eligible for COBRA continuation coverage has not yet expired (if COBRA continuation coverage had been elected or not discontinued).
Which plans does the premium assistance apply to?
The COBRA premium assistance provisions apply to all group health plans sponsored by private-sector employers or employee organizations (unions) subject to the COBRA rules under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). They also apply to plans sponsored by State or local governments subject to the continuation provisions under the Public Health Service Act. The premium assistance is also available for group health insurance required under state mini-COBRA laws.
How can I tell if I am eligible to receive the COBRA premium assistance?
The ARP makes the premium assistance available for “Assistance Eligible Individuals.” An Assistance Eligible Individual is a COBRA qualified beneficiary who meets the following requirements during the period from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021:
• Is eligible for COBRA continuation coverage by reason of a qualifying event that is a reduction in hours (such as reduced hours due to change in a business’s hours of operations, a change from full-time to part-time status, taking of a temporary leave of absence, or an individual’s participation in a lawful labor strike, as long as the individual remains an employee at the time that hours are reduced) or an involuntary termination of employment (not including a voluntary termination); and
• Elects COBRA continuation coverage. However, you are not eligible for the premium assistance if you are eligible for other group health coverage, such as through a new employer’s plan or a spouse’s plan (not including excepted benefits, a qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangement (QSEHRA), or a health flexible spending arrangement (FSA)), or if you are eligible for Medicare. Note that if you have individual health insurance coverage, like a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace®2, or if you have Medicaid, you may be eligible for ARP premium assistance.
However, if you elect to enroll in COBRA continuation coverage with premium assistance, you will no longer be eligible for a premium tax credit, advance payments of the premium tax credit, or the health insurance tax credit for your health coverage during that period. Note: If the employee’s termination of employment was for gross misconduct, the employee and any dependents would not qualify for COBRA continuation coverage or the premium assistance.
If I am eligible for the premium assistance, how long will it last?
Your premium assistance can last from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021. However, it will end earlier if: • You become eligible for another group health plan, such as a plan sponsored by a new employer or a spouse’s employer (not including excepted benefits, a QSEHRA, or a health FSA), or you become eligible for Medicare**, or • You reach the end of your maximum COBRA continuation coverage period. If you continue your COBRA continuation coverage after the premium assistance period, you may have to pay the full amount of the premium otherwise due. Failure to do so may result in your loss of COBRA continuation coverage. Contact your plan administrator, employer sponsoring the plan, or health insurance issuer for more information. When your COBRA premium assistance ends, you may be eligible for Medicaid or a special enrollment period to enroll in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace® or to enroll in individual market health insurance coverage outside of the Marketplace. A special enrollment period is also available when you reach the end of your maximum COBRA coverage period. You may apply for and, if eligible, enroll in Medicaid coverage at any time. For more information, go to: https://www.healthcare.gov/medicaid-chip/getting-medicaid-chip/. **Individuals receiving the COBRA premium assistance must notify their plans if they become eligible for coverage under another group health plan (not including excepted benefits, a QSEHRA, or a health FSA), or for Medicare. Failure to do so can result in a tax penalty.
Who is eligible for an additional election opportunity for COBRA continuation coverage?
A qualified beneficiary whose qualifying event was a reduction in hours or an involuntary termination of employment prior to April 1, 2021 and who did not elect COBRA continuation coverage when it was first offered prior to that date or who elected COBRA continuation coverage but is no longer enrolled (for example, an individual who dropped COBRA 2 Health Insurance Marketplace® is a registered service mark of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. 4 continuation coverage because he or she was unable to continue paying the premium) may have an additional election opportunity at this time. Individuals eligible for this additional COBRA election period must receive a notice of extended COBRA election period informing them of this opportunity. This notice must be provided within 60 days of the first day of the first month beginning after the date of the enactment of the ARP (so, by May 31, 2021) and individuals have 60 days after the notice is provided to elect COBRA. However, this additional election period does not extend the period of COBRA continuation coverage beyond the original maximum period (generally 18 months from the employee’s reduction in hours or involuntary termination). COBRA continuation coverage with premium assistance elected in this additional election period begins with the first period of coverage beginning on or after April 1, 2021. Individuals can begin their coverage prospectively from the date of their election, or, if an individual has a qualifying event on or before April 1st, choose to start their coverage as of April 1st, even if the individual receives an election notice and makes such election at a later date. In either case, please note that the premium assistance is only available for periods of coverage from April 1, 2021 through September 30,2021.
I am an Assistance Eligible Individual who has been enrolled in COBRA continuation coverage since December 2020. Will I receive a refund of the premiums that I have already paid?
No. The COBRA premium assistance provisions in the ARP apply only to premiums for coverage periods from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021. If you were eligible for premium assistance, but paid in full for periods of COBRA continuation coverage beginning on or after April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021, you should contact the plan administrator or employer sponsoring the plan to discuss a credit against future payments (or a refund in certain circumstances.)
How can I get more information on my eligibility for COBRA continuation coverage or the premium assistance, including help if my employer has denied my request for the premium assistance?
For group health plans sponsored by private-sector employers, guidance and other information is available on the DOL web site at https://www.dol.gov/cobra-subsidy. You can also contact one of EBSA’s Benefits Advisors at askebsa.dol.gov or 1.866.444.3272. EBSA’s Benefits Advisors may also be able to assist if you feel that your plan or employer has improperly denied your request for treatment as an Assistance Eligible Individual. Employers and plans may be subject to an excise tax under the Internal Revenue Code for failing to satisfy the COBRA continuation coverage requirements. This tax could be as much as $100 per qualified beneficiary, but not more than $200 per family, for each day that the plan or employer is in violation of the COBRA rules. If you feel you may have been improperly denied premium assistance, contact EBSA at askebsa.dol.gov or 1.866.444.3272.
Mask Policy Update
Mask mandates are changing, and the guidance provided has created more questions than answers. The union inquired with the company to understand exactly how these changes will impact Wabtec’s mask policy. Union Relations informed us that the EHS team is working with the Erie County Health Department to understand what changes are necessary. The company expects to have proper guidance by Wednesday, May 19. We will continue to keep you informed of any additional information as it becomes available.
Covid and Cobra Bulletin 04/26/21
In Plant Vaccine for Wabtec Employees Offered
We are pleased to announce that Wegman’s Pharmacy has offered to come to the Erie plant to administer the Moderna Vaccine to any Erie facility Wabtec employee or contractor interested. Employees on a temporary layoff can also schedule an appointment for the dates listed below. To provide this service, Wegmans requires a minimum of 50 interested individuals.
While there is no charge for employees, your insurance card must be provided. The first shot in the series will be administered at the Fitness Center in Building 14 on either Friday, May 7 or Friday, May 14. Appointments, masks and physical distancing are required. If you are interested, please click on the date desired to schedule your appointment:
The second shot in the series will also be available at the plant and will be scheduled in person at the time of your first shot.
Wabtec is not mandating the vaccine.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”) provides that, for the period from April 1, 2021 until September 30, 2021, if an individual’s Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (“COBRA”) qualifying event is an involuntary termination of employment or a reduction of hours (each, an “assistance eligible individual”), then 100% of the COBRA premium is paid by the employer, health plan, or insurer and the premium expense is reimbursed by the federal government through a refundable FICA tax credit.
Wabtec Human Resource informed the Union the updated COBRA notices are ready to send out and laid-off members should be receiving them in the mail soon. The notice will include guidance for members to reactivate their insurance if they opted out of COBRA at the time of their initial qualifying separation. Additionally, it will provide guidance to request reimbursements for April premiums and other advanced payments.
If you have questions about your rights to COBRA continuation coverage, you should contact BCC’s Customer Service Call Center: