PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregonians on unemployment have started receiving extended benefits through the American Rescue Plan Act.
Roughly 27,000 Oregonians were out of unemployment benefits until the programs were extended by lawmakers in Washington, DC. While the Oregon Employment Department said it’s been able to start paying many people on time, a mother of seven is still waiting for the money to show up.
After receiving unemployment benefits for a year, Darcy J. Mantor-Ellis said her claim expired along with so many others on March 13. She has since filed a new claim as directed but has yet to receive any additional benefit payments and said her family is “going to be in some pretty serious financial trouble if this doesn’t get rectified.”
“When is that going to happen? How many weeks am I going to have to wait?” said Mantor-Ellis. “I have to plan to keep a roof over my kids’ heads and we have car payments and things like that. We got a notice for repossession just the other day.”
After waiting more than five hours on hold with the OED, Mantor-Ellis was able to get through to someone who resolved the error that was holding up her claim but she was told there could still be a lag before she sees a payment.
The employment department said everyone’s situation is different so it’s unclear when someone like Mantor-Ellis can expect to see their payments resume. The OED said it’s generally moving through claims faster now than at the beginning of the pandemic.
“We are processing most initial claims very quickly — within about four days,” explained OED Acting Director David Gerstenfeld. “Sometimes it does take a little bit longer and if we’re having to do the initial claim processing and then also initiate the PEUC claim, it may take a few extra days.”
KOIN 6 News learned the OED is now working to implement the Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation program for self-employed people who receive regular unemployment benefits. Officials expect to start making those payments by the end of April.