Mother with disabled son ‘upset’ by jobless benefit snag

Oregon

Randi Conley says she can't work normal daytime hours because she cares for her severely autistic son

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A mother who is unable to work a regular day job due to caring for a disabled son says she will not lose her unemployment benefits after originally being told she might have to pay back what she’s already received.

Randi Conley said she’s been on unemployment benefits for about a year due to the pandemic. She said someone hacked her online account a couple of weeks ago and changed all of her information so she had to call the Oregon Employment Department to re-verify her identity.

During the call, Conley said she was asked what hours she’s available to work. She replied that she’s looking for night and weekend shifts because her severely autistic son requires care during regular daytime hours.

Based on her availability, Conley said OED told her she was no longer eligible for benefits and may even have to pay back everything she’s received so far.

“It was just really scary for me because I was like our family depends on this to make ends meet until I can get work that’s sufficient so it really upset me,” she said.

But later on Friday, Conley informed KOIN 6 that she had made progress.

“I got a call from the unemployment office just a bit ago and they said they will not be holding my availability against me! I think all of this attention and people helping me out really worked! This is great news for me, but I hope it doesn’t happen to anyone else!” she said.

KOIN 6 News contacted OED about the issue and was informed that individuals are required to be available for work during all the usual hours and weekdays customary for the types of work they are seeking. If they are not available all hours and days, they might be denied benefits. OED also said there are some exceptions to the requirements, including for someone with a child who requires care but they wouldn’t speak directly to Conley’s situation.

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