August 5, 2020 (SALEM, ORE.) – The Oregon Employment Department announced today that they met their FOCUS PUA goal of processing 70,000 remaining initial Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims on August 4, several days ahead of the August 8 deadline the Department set for itself. The Department is now current with processing regular and PUA unemployment claims, and processing new ones that come in at a record rate, so Oregonians can start getting paid the benefits they are owed.
“We hope that more Oregonians are now starting to feel relief,” said David Gerstenfeld, acting director of the Oregon Employment Department. “The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program’s new online form has also helped in processing weekly claims, so more Oregonians will start getting their benefits much more quickly.”
In the past week, the Department processed more than 20,000 initial PUA claims, as with the week prior, signaling the increased speed at which the Department is now working. The Department has already redirected employees to other work needed to get people their benefits.
“It’s important to remember that while some claims may need more attention for benefits to be sent, that initial processing is a critical first step. I am happy to report that the Department has removed one more barrier to Oregonians getting their critically needed regular unemployment or PUA.”
Gerstenfeld noted that additional barriers still remain, but that the Department is moving in the right direction, and is continuing to build positive momentum.
“We have turned a corner in getting Oregonians their benefits more quickly. It has certainly taken more time than we’d like. But we’re getting there, and we are committed to doing everything we can to make this easier for everyone,” said Gerstenfeld in his weekly media briefing.
Last week the Department announced they had found a way to pay tens of thousands of Oregonians “Benefits While You Wait.” The Department is proactively reaching out to Oregonians who may be eligible for those benefits while their claims are being reviewed by an adjudicator.
Gerstenfeld also shared that the Department is committed to getting the modernization of the Department’s computer system back on track.
“We are well-positioned to modernize in a way that will help Oregonians get the benefits they deserve in a timely fashion. We now have a talented team of employees. I am now responsible for the success of this project and intend to do everything I can to make real progress—and quickly.”