With the economy stressed to breaking point as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, record numbers of Americans are finding themselves with no employment or working vastly reduced hours. As the Statesman Journal reports, the situation in Oregon is especially dire, with over 400,000 residents being made unemployed since COVID began ripping the state's economy apart back in March. If you're among those affected, unemployment insurance benefits could prove a lifeline. Granted, it's not going to make up for a lost income entirely, however it can at least take the edge from the pressure until you find yourself in work. If you're a resident of Oregon who's lost their job as a result of the crisis, here's what you should know about filing for unemployment.
Am I Permitted to Claim Unemployment in Oregon?
The first step in the process is to confirm whether you're actually eligible to claim UI at all. State benefits aren't open to all, and you'll need to ensure you satisfy the following requirements before proceeding together with your claim:
- I'm legally allowed to work in the US
- I'm able and prepared to work and am actively seeking employment
- I lost my job through no-fault of my own
- I've worked in Oregon not less than 12 months
- I've earned at least $1,000 or worked 500 hours in the first 4 of the last 5 completed quarters. My total income over that same period is at least 1.5 times my income during my highest-paid quarter
All that being said, the requirements have loosened slightly because the COVID crisis began. Further towards the government passing the CARES Act in March 2021, UI applicants are no longer required to show that they are able or open to work if they've been made unemployed because of the crisis. If-
- You've been furloughed
- You can't make a start because of school closures/ lack of alternative childcare arrangements
- You have COVID
- You've been forced to self-isolate because of exposure to COVID
- You're the primary caregiver to someone who has COVID or who is self-isolating after exposure
– you will still be able to claim UI even though you aren't in a position to seek new employment. Additionally, you'll also be eligible to claim partial benefits if you have been requested to work reduced hours by your employer. In another significant shake-up towards the usual requirements, self-employed persons, gig workers, and freelancers (none who would normally be entitled to file) are now free to claim.
What Information Do I Need to File for Unemployment in Oregon?
Once you've checked you meet the eligibility requirements, the next step is to collect all the information you'll need to complete the application. This includes:
- Your SSN
- Your Alien Registration Number if you're not a US citizen
- Your legal name and contact details
- Proof of ID (a driving license or state ID will suffice)
- Details of employers you've worked for during the last 18 months
- Your reason for leaving your last employer
- Your bank details if you want to be paid by bank deposit (another alternative is a pre-paid debit card)
How Will i File for Unemployment in Oregon?
So, you've checked your eligibility and gathered all the information you will need to complete the claim. Next up is the application itself. To file for, you've got one of two options:
- 1. Open a merchant account and complete the application at the website of the State of Oregon Employment Department
- 2. Call 1-877-FILE-4-UI
Unless you can't access a computer, it's recommended to file online due to the extraordinarily high amount of claims currently being received. Should you choose need to call, prepare for long hold times.
How Much Will I Get?
The amount of UI you'll receive is determined by what you earned during your base period. Regardless of earnings, the minimum you will get is $122 per week and the maximum is $524 each week. If you want to get an advance indication of methods much you're likely to receive, check out the unemployment insurance estimator provided by the State of Oregon Employment Department. Along with your state entitlement, you'll also get a flat payment of $600 per week for a maximum of 4 months, or until the end of July (whichever comes first). The state will automatically calculate your entitlement towards the supplementary payment when you file your claim, which means you don't need to worry about filing any extra claims to benefit.
How Long Can I Claim?
Under normal circumstances, the utmost length of time you can claim UI in Oregon is 26 weeks over anyone 52-week period. However, as a further condition from the CARES Act, you can now claim an additional 13 weeks, up to a maximum of 39 weeks in total.
You might have pressed 'submit' on your claim, however your job's not done yet. To be able to receive payment, you'll need to certify your claim weekly on the State of Oregon Employment Department's online portal. Your first certification will need to be made around the first Sunday following your claim, even if your eligibility is still being reviewed. Don't forget to certify: if you do, you won't be paid for the week you miss. When the State of Oregon Employment Department has reviewed the application, they'll send you a Notice of Determination confirming their decision. In case your claim has been approved, payments must start within around 3 days.
Can I Appeal if My Claim is Denied?
If your claim is denied, don't panic just yet. If you disagree with the determination and have evidence or information that could help sway the decision, you can log an appeal within 20 times of the mailing date of the determination. The determination will include full instructions on what information must be submitted in support of the appeal, and also the process you'll need to follow. Be sure to continue to certify your claim weekly as the appeal is still ongoing.