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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: 29850

Reported Deaths: 521
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah6649130
Marion430988
Washington418058
Umatilla287441
Clackamas218661
Malheur146023
Jackson9943
Lane89014
Deschutes73212
Yamhill71814
Jefferson4968
Polk48715
Morrow4765
Lincoln47013
Linn43813
Union4352
Klamath2602
Benton2456
Hood River2390
Wasco2303
Douglas1943
Josephine1802
Columbia1451
Coos1340
Clatsop1050
Baker892
Crook601
Tillamook460
Lake290
Wallowa291
Curry260
Sherman180
Harney120
Grant80
Gilliam70
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 771321

Reported Deaths: 14691
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2561486303
Riverside562011136
Orange512591111
San Bernardino51252838
San Diego43445748
Kern30916333
Fresno27312348
Sacramento20660364
Alameda20097356
Santa Clara19760293
San Joaquin19623399
Stanislaus16052317
Contra Costa15489194
Tulare15361253
Ventura11932138
Imperial11435309
San Francisco1049091
San Mateo9264142
Monterey908965
Santa Barbara8741107
Merced8645131
Kings714477
Sonoma6777110
Marin6477106
Solano600752
Madera426758
Placer337340
San Luis Obispo329326
Yolo271053
Butte269531
Santa Cruz20967
Sutter160810
Napa158013
San Benito125410
Yuba10927
El Dorado10514
Mendocino80818
Lassen7290
Shasta65212
Glenn5393
Colusa4996
Nevada4965
Tehama4843
Humboldt4816
Lake4187
Calaveras30513
Amador28616
Tuolumne2163
Inyo18714
Mono1632
Siskiyou1580
Del Norte1351
Mariposa752
Plumas490
Modoc230
Trinity150
Sierra60
Alpine20
Unassigned00
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