Oregon Employment Department completes PUA backlog


Employment officials processed the backlog ahead of their Aug. 8 deadline

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Employment Department said it’s processed the backlog of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims as of Wednesday.

The OED processed all 70,000 claims that were part of the Focus PUA project ahead of its self-imposed Aug. 8 deadline and so far a little more than half of those who filed for PUA are getting payments.

But while the number of outstanding claims continues to shrink, many Oregonians remain confused about what they should do. Lyft and Uber drivers are particularly confused about what program they qualify for.

Uber driver Leslie Hamilton and Lyft driver Megan Graham both applied for benefits at the end of March and have yet to receive any money.

“I’d like to sue the state,” Hamilton quipped. “I mean it’s just, it’s got me that upset and angry about this whole thing. It’s just so stupid.”

“When I apply for unemployment, I keep getting denial letters,” said Graham.

KOIN 6 News learned the OED specifically advised Lyft drivers to apply for regular unemployment benefits even though they’re not considered employees by the company. Employment officials haven’t extended the same advice for Uber drivers; however, an Uber driver previously told KOIN 6 he eventually received benefits through the regular unemployment program.

Those who are in the same situation need to fill out the “contact us” form on the OED’s new website.

Visit the new website

Meanwhile, there are still tens of thousands of claims still caught in the adjudication process. In response, the OED launched the “Benefits While You Wait” program. Officials said those who qualify for the benefits are being notified by email and via robo calls.

The OED will host a webinar on Thursday at 1 p.m. to give updates on Benefits While You Wait and PUA. Attendees will have the chance to ask questions. Please register ahead of time by clicking here.

Learn more about Benefits While You Wait

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