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A Glance At Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program In Oregon

Updated : September 10th, 2020

Oregon is one of the states worst affected by the measures taken to curb the Coronavirus pandemic. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, the unemployment rate in Oregon in May is 14.2%, and about 600,000 Oregonians have filed unemployment benefits since March. With new jobless claims surging, the authorities are struggling to pay the benefits, especially to those who have applied for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program in Oregon.

Are you one among them struggling to collect your benefits, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)? Do not worry! This article will guide you through a few alternatives that can help you collect your benefits. But before that, let’s have a quick look at the PUA program. 

What Is The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program?

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance provides benefits to otherwise ineligible self-employed, gig workers, independent contractors, freelancers, etc. It was designed in response to the Coronavirus pandemic under the CARES Act. 

Who Qualifies For PUA?

To qualify for the PUA, you must meet certain eligibility criteria. Some of them are listed below. 

  • You have lost your job as the direct result of the pandemic 
  • You must not be eligible for any other unemployment benefits
  • You have been diagnosed with the Coronavirus and are seeking medical care
  • Your family member has contracted the Coronavirus, and you are giving care
  • You can’t go to your workplace as a direct result of the pandemic public health care emergency
  • Your workplace is closed due to the Coronavirus
  • You have been scheduled to start a job but cannot start it due to the Coronavirus
  • The head of your family lost his/her life to the Coronavirus, and you are the major breadwinner

Why Are PAU Payments Delayed?

The PUA program was announced in March 2020. But the Oregon Employment Department took about a month to get started with the new program, i.e., the authorities began accepting applications only in late April. 

To add more to this, the Employment Department had neither personnel trained staff to process the claims nor a phone number for claimants to help them clear their queries or inquire about the status of their applications until mid-June.

During the period, thousands of PUA applicants flooded the already overloaded calls for traditional unemployment claims in a quest for updated information about their backlogged payments. The staff who were handling the phone lines for traditional unemployment claims weren’t trained on the new PUA benefits and hence couldn’t resolve queries about the program.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program in Oregon received more than 90,000 unemployment claims in the first 7 weeks after its announcement. But the Employment Department paid fewer than 3,000 claims a week on an average. This led to the enormous backlog of unprocessed claims, i.e., approximately 65,000 applications.

The Oregon Employment Department is largely working on the backlog of traditional unemployment claims. However, the Department has said that it won’t work through the backlogged 65,000 PUA claims till the second week of August. The Department has paid $90+ million PUA benefits till date.

How Does The Oregon Employment Department Calculate PUA Benefits?

The Oregon Employment Department follows the federal requirements while calculating the PUA benefits. That is, it uses gross wages to calculate the payment. While applying, you are required to provide details of your gross income. This helps the Department to determine how much they should pay you in a given week. 

This, in practice, means that if you earn income during a given week, your PUA payment will be affected even if your earnings go to the overhead costs of your business.

What Can You Do If Your Claim Is Not Resolved?

David Gerstenfeld, the head of Oregon Employment Department, recently announced that The Employment Department is set to begin the Focus PUA program to help Oregonians receive their PUA benefits faster. The program aims at improving technology, working speed, and proactive communication in processing the application. The Focus PUA also aims at shifting skilled employees who are currently handling regular claims to work on PUA payments.    

Gerstenfeld stated that “The department is working with private technology organizations to make the PUA claim process smooth and less manual.” He also added that “The authorities are also working on adding more phone lines. They recently added 138 new lines and are planning to add another 150 in the upcoming weeks.” He further added that “The Employment Department intends to hire at least 60 people who will be solely dedicated to the PUA work.” 

Gerstenfeld said, “The authorities are working with Google to develop an automated system that helps in filing PUA claims. The system is expected to be launched by early July. They have also launched a phone line dedicated to PUA: 503-370-5400 (local) or 833-410-1004 (toll-free). These numbers are separate from the main phone number, 1-877-FILE-4-UI, which processes only traditional Unemployment Insurance benefits. The Oregon Employment Department is also looking to host webinars to provide more information about the PUA program.”  

“The Department will post more information about its plan for processing PUA claims in a few days. But the Department cannot suggest an exact date for when the claims will be processed,” stated Gerstenfeld.

You can also consider calling your state senator and representative. Oregon has an online tool to help identify a lawmaker who represents you.

Can You Check The Status Of Your PUA Claim?

You can check the status of your PUA claim using the PIN and Social Security number through the online claims system

  • Choose “Status of Your Claim” 
  • Select Weekly Reports

If you don’t have a PIN, create one. The system will show the claim status once your PUA application is processed. 

Final Words

Do not be devastated if you haven’t received your PUA benefits yet. Call the state representatives and determine the status of your claim. Till then, keep looking for a job. 

For more details on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program in Oregon, visit the Employment Department website. 

 

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  1. I had trouble getting my proof of self-employment to upload in secure file exchange and finally got it submitted by 12:06 am , 6 minutes late. What are the possibilities that they will deny it? I have received unemployment from March 2020 to some of Jan and some in Feb 2021. Most of Dec, Jan, Feb, March, & april were stopped for this proof of employment.
    Also, I see proof of Income as a 2nd issue but it is always on there. That was not on my TO DO list.
    I feel for u all on ID.ME…

    Anyone trying to reach UI, call their number, press 2 or 3 (questions abt filing a claim?) and then wait thru the message. At the end of it, u will be connected to a live person! I promise.. don’t push another button.. I’ve done it 4 times and it never failed.

    We lost our home, my ex took my child…. (kept her after a visit and called cps facilitating drama while the cops wouldn’t give her back without paperwork locked up in the court house..shut down for covid) I raised her by myself for 12 years & now she is with a violent alcoholic and parental alienating parent .. ….my dog, my 9-year sweet little best friend, was attacked, passing away 3 days later.. all in this time frame.
    But! It will all be ok. I have faith.

    Be grateful for your life and all that is in it today. What u dwell on daily will be your strength or weakness.
    Good luck to all of u.
    And thank you, Jeff, for responding out here. It is appreciated!
    Davulia S.

  2. I filed over two months ago. I have not received any information. My status says “pending resolution”. I have no way of contacting anyone. My position was eliminated at my job and I submitted the documentations online. I dont know what else I can do.

  3. I have been apply Ohio Pua unemployment since July 5th still pending issues. Upload what they ask for when ever I call says your case is in Adjudication. Very very frustrated, financially I am broke. Health issues. Waiting a long period.Don’t know what I will do ?

    1. Nafisa,

      I can understand your situation. There will be a delay considering the number of applications that are being processed. Please continue chasing the office/check your status online at regular intervals until payments normalize.

    2. Same here since Feb 2021 turned in all the documents still pending issues 3 months now. When you call they tell you to be patient. Pulling my hair out it’s so frustrating.

  4. I was receiving PUA unemployment. they made me file for a new claim in February. Now I am in adjudication even though I gave all the same information from my previous claim. Have been adjudication since February and I call and they say they will put in a ticket to have an Adjudicator call me. Nothing. I am wondering If I can go down to to Maryland Unemployment Office and demand that someone talk with me to release my claim for payment. It’s been 56 days. I read that they have a maximum of 45 days.

    1. Luis,

      Your adjudicator may be inundated with pending cases. Please continue to follow up (if you have the contact details) or consider the option of visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible.

    2. t sounds just like mine only im disqualified yet actie every till sept 4th . they haven’t asked me for anything! i file then its disqualified yet im told im ok and have nothing to do bit wait for an answer? answer to what? they switched my program and all and asked me to provide proof for a claim that wa denied al eady back in 2018! deny me once and then again perhaps? lol idk

  5. My mom had unemployment in Florida. She just recently moved temporally to California with a sister since she needs assistance, and now the website is telling her she cannot do anything because she is register in another state. Can she keep filing unemployment in Florida, even if she is living and register now in another state? how is the process to change the unemployment? I tried calling and there is no answer. Thank you!

    1. Stephanie,

      Please ask your mother to consider transferring the UI benefits from FL to CA (details will be available on either of the websites). If there are benefits weeks left in the account, she will be able to claim them.

    1. Leatha,

      UI benefits are offered to claimants who lose employment involuntarily and be able to and available for work.

  6. I lived in ga in 2019 and move to florida in 2020 and work for the xmas months in nov-dec. I was told to do a combine wage claim. my question is which state do i file the claim in?

  7. I filed for pua in Ohio back in October 2020.My claim has been in ajudacatuon since 11/1/20.So 2 to 6 weeks is a total understatement! When I call.i am told to basically hurry up and wait some more.I have recently been redetermined and my claim is allowed.but I have one pending issue.How long is too long?

    1. Nicole,

      Unfortunately, nobody has an answer. There are perhaps thousands of pending applications. Please consider the option of visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible.

  8. If you claim your weeks for unemployment and for the next 2 months you still have not received your money. Where can you go in volusia county to talk with a live person

      1. HI Jeff,
        I applied back in Dec 5th, 2020 and I haven’t received any correspondence, is there a local office that I can make an appt to make certain my claim is right.

        1. Adam,

          You can consider visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible (details will be available on the Unemployment Office’s website).

  9. On NYS DOL website, my claim is saying current yet the information is for my old claim with 0 days remaining despite receiving 2 weeks of payments on the new claim and I was able to certify last night. I haven’t received anything; no letters or emails.

  10. I was disqualified for UI benefits for not providing an ID and other forms of identification. How do I fix this?

        1. Gary,

          You may not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.

    1. Hi Mike, I’m in NYS and was at the end of my BYE on 3/14, I was still certifying but wasn’t getting paid. I found out I had to file a new claim because my other was exhausted. I’m still waiting on approval. Maybe you have to file a new claim. I hope this helps.

  11. They say 2-6 weeks it’s more accurate to say 2-6 months; and when you call many of them are rude and unwilling to assist!

  12. someone needs to look into Sharon L. Anton gillette, wyo. or dickinson, nd she is a fraud and has done so many fraudulent things and please look into her

    1. Annette,

      Please report it to the Fraud Division of the Unemployment Office in your state. You can report on the website.

  13. I worked part time for thee years here in florida. I’m currently not working. I’m also retired and collects social security.
    My question is
    Am I qualified to file for unemployment ?

    1. Ruby,

      To be eligible, you’re required to have sufficient hours and earnings. Please use the “Benefits Calculator” available on this website.

  14. So adjudication takes 8 to 12 weeks. Oh okay, that explains why I havent received payment since July. That surely helps just like the rest of the information that you give. And by the way. What’s the NEW reason you can’t get through to the Call Center.

    1. Maria,
      I have gotten through to the call center (live agent) every time i’ve tried calling within the last 2 weeks. The number to a live agent (follow the prompts carefully) is (667)-207-6520. i have gotten through within 10 to 15 mins with each call i had made!

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