PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For many Oregonians who have gone months without any money to pay their bills, uncertainty about the future is the largest source of stress.
KOIN 6 News has received several emails about the waiting week and when that will be waived. Oregon Employment Department officials previously blamed their old computer system, saying it would take thousands upon thousands of hours to upgrade — which could delay benefits even longer.
“The only thing that I would add on the waiting week is of course our ability to focus on that may depend somewhat on what — if any — federal legislation is passed with a new benefit program, so we’re keeping an eye on that closely,” said OED Acting Director David Gerstenfeld.
As for questions on how to report gross earnings when filing for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, KOIN 6 News learned the OED is still waiting for an answer from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Some people who have returned to work are worried they may need benefits again if busineses are shut down. They want to know if it’s a good idea to keep filing weekly claims while working.
Gerstenfeld said those who continue to file for benefits while working must report their earnings accurately to avoid owing the state money. The other option is to stop filing weekly claims. But workers would have to restart the claim process if they get laid off again and this could lead to another long wait for benefits.
Gerstenfeld said the OED is trying to automate the process of restarting the claim process to make it faster.
Benefit payments abruptly stopped for Lindsay Nyre seven weeks ago. As a permanent resident, she was told she needed to provide a copy of her authorization to work in the U.S. She scanned the paperwork and mailed it in immediately but is still stuck.
“The thing that haunted me was the lady at Coos Bay, she said she’d spoken to so many people just that day with the same issue and I thought, my goodness, nobody seems to be talking about this,” Nyre said.
When asked about the delay, Gerstenfeld explained the OED has fallen behind on emails. He said people who are still waiting to hear back should fill out the “contact us” form on their new website instead. There’s also an option there to upload documents. Around 2,800 people had used the form by Thursday.
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