PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - The Oregon Employment Department says it has made good progress with hundreds of thousands of claims for unemployment and is nearly caught up.
Some Oregonians, however, say they are still struggling to get paid, with one woman saying she has yet to receive an unemployment check.
For months, the Oregon Employment Department has racked up hundreds of thousands of unemployment claims. It's also paid out billions of dollars in benefits. The department now says their backlog of claims is getting smaller and smaller.
The department says of the 540,000 claims, just more than one thousand have not been processed. Gov. Kate Brown has praised their work.
"They’ve really done an extraordinary job and we’re working hard every day to make sure that every Oregonian gets the benefits that they deserve," Brown said.
But for some, including Wainani Paikai, it's still a waiting game.
"It’s been a little bit frustrating," Paikai said.
Paikai says she started her job in March, and then about a month later found out she was moving to part-time. She was supposed to get part-time benefits through the Work Share program. Then, she received even more bad news.
"About a month later, the end of May, my entire position was eliminated, so therefore I was on to regular unemployment benefits," Paikai said.
Paikai said while trying to file for unemployment, it created an issue, since she already had a claim in for work share benefits. But she says last month, she found out she was denied Work Share, and she's still going through the adjudication process for unemployment insurance.
"It’s been a little bit stressful," Paikai said. "I’m lucky that I have really good roommates who are really understanding and are able to take the brunt of my rent for a little while."
On Wednesday, the unemployment department announced a new program to still get benefits for people who are in adjudication and qualify for unemployment.
"So, while there is still a wait period, people will receive benefits while they’re waiting for that process to complete," David Gerstenfeld, acting director for the Oregon Employment Department, said.
The department says for those who qualify to receive payments while waiting, it will be reaching out to them. The department also noted that the extra $600 a week provided through the Cares Act has ran out, and if anyone now needs assistance with housing and food, to call 211.
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