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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. So I have been getting ue for 6 months and on Oct 21 I had a fact finding issue found and cleared after taking a month, I got put on hold I got nothing no benefits nothing because I am on hold until cleared up and it was another month later in my favor, I’ve been without payment since Oct 21 since then I have been on HOLD, I am beyond pissed, I call every Fri I see the letter I received saying its in my favor that says I am Monetary Eligible-yet I still have 6 payments on hold. I call DEO and I talk, I beg and I get told “we are working on it”, the letter is in my favor I am poor not rich I am poor Why how do you people get away with this

  2. Hello

    I’m 59 years old and was laid off in March 2020 due to Covid.
    In June 2020 I was advised my job was eliminated and there is no chance of me
    Being brought back. I’m collecting UI since March.

    Pondering the thought of taking my early retirement pension as I can’t survive on
    UI any longer. My pension is of course reduced due to my age. Full pension is age 62.

    If I apply for early reduced pension in this situation, does my UI benefit get decreased? I’m in New York.
    I’m still looking for full time work. No luck.

    Thank you so much
    Lorraine

  3. i was just layed off from my job, i did collect benefits in pa. my job is seasonal igot unemployment payments in jan. to april i had 26 weeks of unemployment , but only used about 13 weeks, and was called back to work. i received 2 weeks of 600 dollars of stimlus money. my question is now that i reopened my 2020 claim . i,m i still elegibe for any more stimlus payments along with my regular unemployment payments.

  4. I am 65 yrs old in California and being layed off in Dec 2020. If I apply for unemployment benefits and collect a company pension, will the pension reduce the unemployment benefits ? If you answer call unemployment what is the department or do you have a phone number for a help line. I have called and get automated questions that do not apply to my situation.
    Cannot get to a live person.

  5. Several years ago I was part of a reduction in force and was early-retired for pension purposes. I count on this small pension ($2K/mo) to supplement my employment which has been inconsistent this past two years. I am filing for UI in IL and I qualify for it, but they are saying my pension reduces my UI benefit to zero. Is that right?

    1. Mike,

      That is partially right. The pension will have an impact on UI benefits. Please check for relevant info on the Unemployment Office’s website.

  6. I have $219.00 left on my UE and still no work due to covid-19 will i be able to get a extension on my UE and will it cover the last two weeks. I request payment tomorrow.

      1. My benefits have expired, still.unemployed due to over 65, wdiebrtes, high blood pressure and have one kidney, Can I get PUA , Cares Act for any assistance

  7. im working at a place i have been layed off from a lot in my career.i got 30 yrs in there so i can retire now but need another job to make it hoping to stay working and get more hours.If i take a new job and get layed off there I will BE DRAWING 1400 A MONTH FROM THE JOB I WORKED 30 YRS would i be able to draw unemployment if the new job lays me off and would it be reduced because of my retirement money of 1400 month.

  8. My bf was laid off in April he got the the 600 to start with now he is only getting the unemployment and no extra when we hear ppl getting 3 checks totaling 40k that might be lies but still that is bullshit.

  9. I Sharon Bland or Sharon Scott or Sharon Ann Mccraw
    Use my phone to claim two of my boyfriends and my own benefits. Is that ok ?

  10. I’m getting pua on employment and it was supposed to be backdated to May 27th when I wasn’t ableable to start my new job and somehow it’s August 24th they said it would be backdated been sending messages and pua people keep saying they have emailed you guys too but nobody gets back to me who do I need to contact about this thank you

  11. I check my checking account balance every week but I cannot tell if I am getting my 300.00 extra unemployment. Also. How can I tell if I got my back time unemployment .

    1. Thelma,

      I did not understand what you meant. Please reach out to the Unemployment Office for precise answers to all your questions.

  12. I have exhausted my UI and all extensions. Not eligible for Fed Ed. Does EDD open a PUA claim for me. Or do I have to aoole for it. Its been past 30 days since receiving my Fed Ed denial letter.

  13. i have been unemployed for the whole year almost and since i have been trying to distance myself to better my all around health, it took me this long to file for benefits, i was hoping to get back pay all the way to the beginning.

    1. Zach,

      To qualify, the claimant is required to have sufficient earnings/employment during the “Base Period”. Please use the “Benefits Calculator” available on this website for more.

  14. Thank you o much for investigating this. When I received an overpayment statement and my benefits where stopped I felt my heart drop to my stomach. Already being evicted by a slumlord and now no income, i had to start working when i feel very at risk for getting the virus because of pre-existing conditions and the reason for filing in the first place. i am a cosmetologist and considered non-essential. I feel utterley hopeless and helpless in this situation.

  15. I cannot contact anyone in the unemployment offices because the phone hangs up on me in all cases after listening over and over the recorded message. I have called three numbers .

    I have received pandemic unemployment since March 31st. There was a pending adjudication but I never received any questions, letters nor emails about it and I was approved and paid. Now…this is what the website says:
    7 of 7 entries
    Issue Identification Number Employer Name Issue Type Status Date Mailed Level
    0002 7693 59-01
    PUA Pending 11/16/2020 Adjudication
    0002 4773 71-01
    Program Integrity Mailed 11/6/2020 Adjudicati
    Claimant Inbox
    Select the Search button to display your action items. To narrow your search, input issue date range below and select the Search button.
    Issue Date: From: To: 11/6/2020 to 11/16/2020
    Inbox
    • Below are the items that require your attention and that you need to take action on for your claim.
    • Select the Document ID
    I need this money to survive as others do while I am trying to re-establish any contract freelance work I am capable of doing….I report my small jobs as I get them but they do not come close to equaling my unemployment as of yet. Please tell me where I can go to find out what is needed here.

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