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Oregon says it can quickly pay those still waiting for unemployment benefits

The Oregon Employment Department unveiled 'Benefits While You Wait' last week, a program designed to circumvent the red tape that keeps thousands of Oregonians waiting on their unemployment benefits.

Posted: Aug 4, 2020 3:46 PM
Updated: Aug 5, 2020 2:39 PM

SALEM, Ore. — Last Friday, the Oregon Employment Department announced that it has "found a way" to pay out benefits for Oregonians who are out of work due to COVID-19 and are still waiting for their claims to be reviewed. The "Benefits While You Wait" program is supposed to do precisely that — speedily pay out benefits to people who are waiting on benefits.

“We are confident this group of Oregonians are eligible for benefits because they lost their job due to COVID-19, we just don’t know which program they are eligible for yet,” said Employment Department Acting Director David Gerstenfeld. “We have found a workaround that will allow us to pay benefits while their claims are being reviewed by an adjudicator. We are grateful we have figured out a way to do this because Oregonians have been waiting too long.”

OED says that it is already notifying claimants who are eligible for the program via email and robo calls. The agency said that strict laws govern unemployment insurance to prevent fraud and provide due process, requiring that each claim be reviewed — but an estimated "tens of thousands" of Oregonians may be eligible who are still in adjudication.

According to OED, Oregonians who may be eligible for “Benefits While You Wait”:

  1. Applied for regular unemployment benefits;
  2. Had their claim flagged for adjudication because the Employment Department has to determine if they meet the legal requirements to get regular unemployment benefits;
  3. They are out of work due to a COVID-19 qualifying reason (see full list below); AND
  4. Are likely eligible for PUA if they cannot receive regular unemployment benefits.

For the time being, claimants are advised to keep filing weekly claims as normal while OED contacts those who may be eligible for the program.

OED described how the program works with the following steps — but the worst case scenario is that a claimant turns out to be truly ineligible and would have to pay back the early benefits:

  • As long as claimants qualify for PUA and file weekly regular unemployment claims, the Employment Department will pay these Oregonians their regular unemployment benefit amount until their claim is adjudicated. If, at the end of the adjudication process, it turns out that they qualified for regular unemployment benefits, nothing will change. They will keep getting regular unemployment benefits as long as they file their weekly claims and are eligible.
  • If it turns out they didn’t qualify for regular unemployment, then the Employment Department will move their claims into the PUA program. If their PUA weekly benefit amount is higher, the Employment Department will also send them the increase for all the past weeks they got the regular UI amount.
  • In the unlikely event this results in overpayment, the person would have to pay it back.

According to OED, “Benefits While You Wait” is not available to people having their claims reviewed because of past or current school work experience, people who need to prove they are legally authorized to work in the U.S., claimants who reported being out of their labor market at least 3.5 days during a week, and some other situations.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 32820

Reported Deaths: 543
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah7184138
Marion468394
Washington451960
Umatilla297641
Clackamas240861
Malheur162723
Lane121017
Jackson11485
Deschutes84012
Yamhill75713
Jefferson5348
Polk53015
Linn52213
Morrow4996
Lincoln48213
Union4462
Benton3106
Wasco2923
Klamath2802
Hood River2510
Douglas2324
Clatsop2120
Josephine1982
Columbia1711
Coos1570
Baker942
Crook621
Tillamook530
Lake330
Curry310
Wallowa311
Sherman180
Harney120
Grant100
Gilliam80
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 809890

Reported Deaths: 15606
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2678016514
Riverside581781189
San Bernardino54478925
Orange533151216
San Diego46610776
Kern31947369
Fresno28336382
Sacramento22269406
Alameda21189406
Santa Clara21153312
San Joaquin20194441
Contra Costa16572205
Stanislaus16452354
Tulare15970263
Ventura12729150
Imperial11835317
San Francisco11143101
Monterey988471
San Mateo9843150
Santa Barbara9061113
Merced8872142
Kings756980
Sonoma7412122
Marin6716118
Solano630963
Madera448165
Placer357745
San Luis Obispo354629
Butte282744
Yolo280355
Santa Cruz23589
Sutter170511
Napa168113
San Benito134511
Yuba11537
El Dorado11274
Mendocino93118
Shasta85617
Lassen7400
Glenn5783
Tehama5605
Lake54911
Nevada5347
Colusa5296
Humboldt5017
Calaveras31714
Amador29616
Tuolumne2274
Inyo18715
Mono1652
Siskiyou1650
Del Norte1391
Mariposa752
Plumas500
Modoc270
Trinity160
Sierra60
Alpine20
Unassigned00
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