Oregonians feel forgotten as unemployment wait times continue

Coronavirus

Roughly 70,000 PUA claims remain unprocessed

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Employment Department has processed the majority of the state’s unemployment claims, however, there are still people who say they have yet to receive payments.

One Oregon man said he has been waiting for 11 weeks to hear back. Shaun Lowcock said he filed a regular unemployment claim and was concerned he’d been forgotten. He’s also not the only person with this experience.

The Employment Department said 99% of regular claims have been processed, leaving 1,337 more to do. Separate from standard claims, there are roughly 70,000 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims that have yet to be processed. According to the OED, the department’s goal is to get through all of the PUA claims by August 8.

“I heard through reporting, your reporting and others, that 99% have been done and now they’re moving to the PUA claims. I’m just a regular claim, so I’m thinking to myself, did they forget about me?” said Lowcock.

But those with regular claims have been left wondering what this process means for them. In Lowcock’s case, he has gone months without a check. Like many others, he has been calling for weeks, only to get a constant busy signal.

“I think the biggest thing for me was the not knowing. It was the 11 weeks of ‘what’s going on?'” said Lowcock. “Did I do something wrong? Is my claim somewhere in limbo and I’m going to have to start all over again?”

Finally, this week, Lowcock was able to get through to someone after waiting on hold for hours.

“So, for me, as soon as I got off the phone with this person, I was like, ‘Okay, I did nothing wrong, I’m in the system. It’s working. It’s working laboriously slow, but it’s working,'” said Lowcock.

He said he was told they have his claim and that it really is just taking this long to get through the system. It was nothing he did wrong on his end. But Lowcock said waiting 11 weeks to find that out is unacceptable and shows they need to better communicate with people.

“I’m still frustrated that it’s taken this long, but I understand more because I have more information—that’s the key,” said Lowcock. “And I think the department leadership, they just need to do a better job of communicating the process to people.”

The Employment Department said they know it’s still too hard to reach them, and that they are continuing to hire people to help make outbound calls and add more phone lines to reduce the wait.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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