OED Director: ‘Significant impact in 2 weeks’ on claims

Coronavirus

Thousands have gone weeks waiting for unemployment benefits

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon Employment Director Kay Erickson said Friday the department still has a lot of things to work on and couldn’t say how long it will take to clear the backlog of claims.

Since March 15, about 445,000 claims have been filed for regular unemployment benefits in Oregon. Of those, 245,000 — about 55% — are receiving payments.

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Many people who spoke with KOIN 6 News said they’ve waited as long as 10 weeks for benefits and just can’t afford to wait any longer.

The are numerous reasons for the delay. The OED wasn’t equipped for the onslaught of applications for benefits, some claims weren’t eligible for benefits, some filed but didn’t continue with the process. Erickson also said it’s taken time to implement the new programs created by the CARES Act, such as the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program which is for self-employed people.

OED: CLAIMS BY THE NUMBERS SINCE MARCH 15:

  • 445,000 claims filed for regular benefits
  • 245,000 people receiving payments (about 55%)
  • 73,000 claims filed were not eligible for benefits
  • 42,000 claims are eligible, but didn’t continue with process
  • 19,000 claims were filed in the last three weeks
  • 11,000 people will get benefits after waiting week

Asked what people waiting for benefits should do, Erickson said the department is reaching out now.

For the next 2 weeks, the OED will begin calling people with the oldest claims as part of Project Focus 100.

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“I would just also reaffirm our commitment to reaching out to those who have been waiting the longest,” Erickson said. “We expect to have a significant impact in the next 2 weeks and we will continue to monitor and report on our progress.”

If you’re still waiting for your claim to be processed, Erickson said to keep filing your weekly claim because the OED will pay you benefits for all the weeks you waited once you’re approved.

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