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State begins program to pay jobless benefits to 1,000s waiting for claim reviews

Oregon Employment Department

Those who qualify will get emails, robocalls

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Oregon Employment Department announced Friday it has found a way to pay benefits to thousands of Oregonians who are out of work due to COVID-19 while they wait for their claim to be reviewed, a program called “Benefits While You Wait.” 

This applies to Oregonians who are waiting for their claim to be reviewed by an adjudicator to determine whether they are eligible for regular unemployment or the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

“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,” he said.

The Employment Department said in Friday's announcement that it is proactively notifying claimants who have been identified to fall into this group via email and robocalls. 

Strict laws governing unemployment insurance to prevent fraud and provide people due process require that each claim be reviewed.

The Employment Department estimates that tens of thousands of Oregonians whose claims are in adjudication may be eligible for PUA if they are not eligible for regular unemployment.

This pool of Oregonians could begin receiving “Benefits While You Wait.” The agency said they are going to contact people who may be able to receive “Benefits While You Wait” over the next several weeks.

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 now, people should continue filing their weekly claims as they have been. We will notify people who may be able to benefit from this approach.

The administrative workaround will work as follows:

  • 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. 

“Benefits While You Wait” is not available to individuals 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.

COVID-19 reasons you may be eligible for PUA:

  • You have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Or, you have symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • A member of your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • You are caring for a family member or a member of your household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Your child can’t go to school because their school is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency, and you need your child to be in school for you to work.
  • A person in your household for whom you have primary caregiving responsibility can’t go to a facility for care because the facility is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency, and you need them to be in facility care for you to work.
  • You can’t get to your workplace because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • You can’t get to your workplace because a health care provider has advised you to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  • You were scheduled to start a job but you can’t start it or can’t get to it as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • You have become the main income earner for your household because the head of your household died as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • You had to quit your job as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • Your workplace is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.


Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: (503) 947-1794. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services.

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  1. Thousands “still” waiting for the Governor to get them some cash ! Here it is July- most Oregonians have been unemployed since March- five months of suffering- worry- inability to put food on the table… I’m willing to bet that those gainfully employed folks at Z21- the ones that sing the praises of this Governor- who refuse to sign the recall petition- can’t possibly understand what these peoples lives are like- a living hell and of no fault of their own- I wonder how they feel every-time someone spouts that Horse manure- “we’re all in this together” !

    Brown is a complete failure ! I can’t say it enough !

      1. “may be eligible for PUA”

        State unemployment is the topic at hand- Your PUA comment is a silly attempt to deflect the criticism away from the Governor’s failures ! She’s had 7 months to get right- she terminated on Director- and Bozo number two is no better !

        Throw her out- sign the petition- Oregon lives are at risk because of her incompetence.

    1. Wow BGHW you showed a little compassion.
      And yes 20 weeks of waiting for $ that further yes according to the rules being qualified for the PUA was certain, was mental and emotional torture.

      The obfuscation and gas lighting from the O.E.D. was suspicious (probably embezzling was to blame)
      It always starts with effective leadership at the top.

      If T-Dump is to blame for the mismanagement of the country, then K.Brown is to blame for the mismanagement of the PUA program.

      1. T-Dump has no say in State affairs- Basic America 101- K- Brown is the sole responsible person for whatever goes on at the State run unemployment office.

        She’s a complete disaster- and continues to sink the state further and further in economic turmoil. Sign the recall petition and let’s move on !

  2. So what I don’t get is a friend who’s self employed went through the process in April, received benefits the first of June and hasn’t got more since? If she has already been approved then whats the hold up? She has family and friends (me) to help but this is absolute nonsense.

  3. According to the Employment department dashboard, at one time 400 employees processed 1500 claims in one week.
    That’s about 1.3 claims per employee per day.
    I expect 55 claims per HOUR, Per employee.
    Last week the computer processed (in computer terms not adjudicating) 40,000 automatically on Sunday.

    With 5$ and 20 minutes anyone can setup an Internet site, and immediately pay millions of people whatever amount of $!.
    Another 45 seconds of checking some boxes and people with the letter “R” in their name could be scheduled to be paid on Tuesday while people with 2 cats could be scheduled to get paid every third Friday.

    Bull squirt, bull squirt, bull squirt!
    That it took several thousand times longer.
    The French Revolution started because a loaf of bread cost more than a person’s daily wages. I haven’t made 7$ for a loaf of bread in 7 months.

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