Unemployment services shift online

A new Internet service from the California Employment Development Department is now available to anyone in the Bay Area who wants to manage their unemployment benefits online, EDD officials said Thursday.

The new system, called UI Online, is available for use on smartphones and tablets as well as computers. More than 62,000 people in California have registered for the service since it became available in early June, according to the EDD.

EDD spokesperson Patti Roberts said:

“People are very enthusiastic about it.”

Claimants can use the new system to certify for continued benefits every two weeks, view the benefits they’ve received, reopen a claim, update personal information, and among other things, view appointments they’ve made for benefits.

UI Online does not allow claimants to file an initial claim, EDD spokesman Garin Casaleggio said. To do that, claimants can use eApply4UI, also an online system that’s been available since around 2002.

UI Online is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, EDD officials said. Roberts said that makes it easier for people who now don’t have to wait until business hours to file a claim over the phone.

Roberts also said people are happy they can save on postage and they don’t have to cross their fingers when they mail their claim form.

Any money people can save while they’re unemployed is helpful, Roberts said:

“People feel very vulnerable when they’re unemployed.”

EDD officials recognized how vulnerable people feel when they’re unemployed and did a slow rollout of the system.

UI Online is available in English and Spanish.

Roberts said some people were hesitant because it is something new. She compared the hesitancy to the switch EDD made from checks to debit cards.

But no one has complained about that change since, she said.