PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Thousands of people still waiting for unemployment benefits in Oregon are also awaiting a decision from Congress on what they can expect now that the extra $600 CARES Act benefits have ceased.
Officials in Washington and Oregon have said a flat dollar amount per person would be the easiest solution. The alternative would be a rate based upon each individual’s previous income — a process that could take up to five months to implement.
But umployment officials said any changes will take time to get up and running.
“Even if it’s the most simple version of just changing the dollar amount — we need to change the dollar amount in the coding, that is being applied to a number of different benefit programs and we need to do testing to make sure it doesn’t have unintended consequences,” said Oregon Employment Department Acting Director David Gerstenfeld.
The Washington Employment Security Department said it’s received more than 2.3 million unemployment claims since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, Washington has paid approximately 966,000 people $8.7 billion in benefits. Oregon reports it’s paid out $3.4 billion.
Confusion has persisted over whether Lyft drivers qualify for regular unemployment benefits in Oregon or for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
Based on new guidance from Lyft, the OED now recommends Lyft drivers file for regular benefits even though they’re not considered Lyft employees.
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