‘Feel like crying’: Unemployment payments suddenly halt

Coronavirus

Some Oregonians who were receiving unemployment benefits say those benefits suddenly stopped

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Receiving unemployment benefits has been a long, arduous struggle for many Oregonians but some are running into a new problem.

Several people have told KOIN 6 News they were getting benefits but the payments suddenly stopped.

Terrie Ward said it started happening to her five weeks ago. She said the Oregon Employment Department informed her she had reported that she’d returned to work and she would need to mail in a form if that wasn’t the case.

Ward said she filled out the form and mailed it in — but she doesn’t think anyone at OED is checking the mail because the same form keeps showing up every week.

Terrie Ward, July 9, 2020. (KOIN)

“It does make you feel ignored and then every time you get one of those letters in the mail you just want to cry,” she said. “You just feel like crying ’cause they’re showing you that they don’t care and that they’re not reading your mail.”

KOIN 6 News reached out to OED Acting Director David Gerstenfeld for an explanation. Gerstenfeld said the system is pausing payments for some people because, under normal circumstances, those people would be returning to work by now. He said the system simply isn’t set up for a pandemic.

The employment department is aware of the problem and employees are actively working to prevent others from experiencing the same frustrating halt to payments as Ward.

If you were receiving payments and they suddenly stopped, Gerstenfeld suggests filling out the form as directed. You can also try calling the OED but, as KOIN 6 has found, getting through to anyone is still nearly impossible despite the department’s efforts to add more phones and employees.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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