OED: Over $10M in Lost Wages payments sent out by mistake

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Oregon Employment Department aims to complete the backlog of claims before the end of the year

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Employment Department says it mistakenly sent out more than $10 million through the Lost Wages Assistance Program as tens of thousands of people still wait for their claims to be processed.

The OED has had problems with delivering the $300 payments to people through the Lost Wages Assistance Program. But KOIN 6 News learned Wednesday the employment department recently sent those payments to between 35,000 and 40,000 people by mistake.

Federal law requires a person to go online and self-certify before they can recieve a $300 payment. But the OED paid tens of thousands of people who hadn’t self-certified. The employment department must now comb through every payment to ensure people are indeed eligible and make them fill out the self-certification.

While the OED said the majority of those who received payments are eligible for the program, those who aren’t will have to pay that money back.

“So we’re working through having some people focus on contacting them, getting those certifications so that they know they are eligible for those benefits,” said OED Acting Director David Gerstenfeld. “They can keep them or for the relatively small number of people who ultimately aren’t eligible to work through the best way for us to recover those amounts.”

Meanwhile, the OED says it’s delivered over $5 billion in benefits since March but still has tens of thousands of claims still waiting to be processed.

Twenty percent of claims waiting for adjudication have been processed since the department starting keeping track on Sept. 30, leaving 41,700 claims still unresolved, according to the employment department.

Employment officials now aim to complete the backlog before the end of the year.

One man told KOIN 6 News he applied in May and was waiting for his claim to be adjudicated. He recently got a call from an 800 number but ignored it, thinking it was a robo call. But it was actually the employment department trying to talk to him about his claim. He wasn’t able to get back to them in time and his claim was denied.

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