Retired workers brought in to work on Kentucky’s old unemployment system


File image of an unemployment benefits application. (Getty Images)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX 56/WKYT) – Kentucky lawmakers received another update on the status of unemployment insurance Thursday morning.

Labor Cabinet officials say they’re still working through thousands of backlogged claims, but say the process to acquire and install a new system is ongoing.

One of the biggest problems facing the state during the pandemic was the tens of thousands of unemployment claims that overwhelmed a computer system that was put into use in the late-1970s. The system is so old that, when it needs service, they have to bring in retired people to work on it.

That’s among the items discussed in another Unemployment Insurance Task Force discussion in the State Capitol Annex.

Lawmakers wanted these monthly meetings in the wake of the numerous problems with UI dating back to March 2020 when the pandemic put tens of thousands out of work.

The solution is a new computer system that will cost more than $47 million and take almost two years to install.

Republican lawmakers have made it a point to grill unemployment officials over several issues and, Thursday, one lawmaker wanted to know more about the consequences of full-time state workers accused of gaming the system in order to get some part-time benefits.

The Labor Cabinet counsel and inspector general did say some of those were disciplined, but they don’t have the power in that cabinet to prosecute them.

While it will take up to two years to install the new UI system, officials say they will continue to modify and enhance the current system until the new one is completely online.

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