PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - A boost in pay is on its way for Oregonians on unemployment who can’t work due to COVID-19.

The Oregon Employment Department announced Wednesday that it has started issuing “Lost Wage Assistance” to qualifying Oregonians who were getting the pandemic unemployment assistance benefits on top of their regular unemployment checks.

It’s a federal program that is funded by FEMA and will pay out an additional $300 a week to people who were laid off or couldn’t work due to the virus.

It’s a welcome extra cushion for those really missing the $600 a week from the Federal Cares Act that expired at the end of July.

Still, there’s those still waiting for benefits on their open claims, who haven’t received any money.

“It’s been very frustrating, and I’ve done everything they’ve asked me to do,” said Julie Hamatake. “I’ve sent back every piece of paper they’ve asked and sent me.”

“The stress of figuring out how to take care of those situations is another thing that puts a toll on my health,” Hamatake added.

Hamatake said COVID-19 forced her to quit her job in retail at the end of May. She told FOX 12 she’s high-risk for developing complications related to the virus and she just couldn’t risk her health anymore as her fellow co-workers started falling ill.

“Within a week-and-a-half of my last day of work there were three confirmed cases at my work,” Hamatake said.

Hamatake said she’s been scraping by for 18 weeks now without her paycheck, getting some help from her insurance company and other organizations to stay afloat.

Hamatake said she’s been told countless times that her claim is in adjudication, but the employment department has never told her why, or if it will get sorted out soon.

“I call every week because I want to make sure I stay on top of the situation, knowing that people have been waiting for month to get their benefits,” Hamatake said.

With dwindling funds, she’s not sure what the future holds and doesn’t want to end up having to pick between getting a job and health.

“I have a husband who is also ailing, he’s on disability. I have young grandchildren that I’m in contact with so it’s not just about health anymore, it’s about my family’s health,” Hamatake said.

Oregon Employment Department website

Image: KPTV

Here’s more information from the Oregon Employment Department:

“LWA payments for all currently eligible Oregonians will be issued immediately. Claimants will receive individual $300 payments for each week they are eligible, via their current method of payment. Claimants with electronic deposit (direct deposit or ReliaCard) should see funds in their account within three business days.”

For more details, head to: https://unemployment.oregon.gov/

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved. 

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