With the economy stressed to breaking point as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, record numbers of Americans are finding themselves without a job or working vastly reduced hours. As the Statesman Journal reports, the situation in Oregon is particularly dire, with over 400,000 residents having been 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 won’t make up for a lost income entirely, but it can at least take the edge off the pressure until you find yourself back in work. If you’re a resident of Oregon who’s lost their job as a result of the crisis, here’s what you need to know about filing for unemployment.
Am I Eligible 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 meet the following requirements before proceeding with your claim:
- I’m legally allowed to work in the US
- I’m able and willing to work and am actively seeking employment
- I lost my job through no fault of my own
- I’ve worked in Oregon for at least 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 since the COVID crisis began. Further to the government passing the CARES Act in March 2020, UI applicants are no longer required to show that they are able or available to work if they’ve been made unemployed as a result of the crisis. If…
- You’ve been furloughed
- You can’t get to work 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’ll still be able to claim UI even if you aren’t in a position to seek new employment. Additionally, you’ll also be eligible to claim partial benefits if you’ve been requested to work reduced hours by your employer. In another significant shake-up to the usual requirements, self-employed persons, gig workers, and freelancers (none of whom 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 gather all the information you’ll need to complete your 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 all employers you’ve worked for over the last 18 months
- Your reason for leaving your last employer
- Your bank details if you want to be paid by bank deposit (the other alternative is a pre-paid debit card)
How Do I File for Unemployment in Oregon?
So, you’ve checked your eligibility and gathered all the information you’ll need to complete the claim. Next up is the application itself. To file, you’ve got one of two options:
- 1. Open an 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 highly recommended to file online due to the extraordinarily high volume of claims currently being received. If you do need to call, prepare for long hold times.
How Much Will I Get?
The amount of UI you’ll receive will depend on what you earned during your base period. Regardless of earnings, the minimum you’ll get is $122 per week and the maximum is $524 per week. If you want to get an advance indication of how much you’re likely to receive, take a look at the unemployment insurance estimator provided by the State of Oregon Employment Department. In addition to your state entitlement, you’ll also receive 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 to the supplementary payment when you file your claim, so you don’t need to worry about filing any additional claims to benefit.
How Long Can I Claim?
Under normal circumstances, the maximum length of time you can claim UI in Oregon is 26 weeks over any one 52-week period. However, as a further condition of the CARES Act, you can now claim an additional 13 weeks, up to a maximum of 39 weeks in total.
You may have pressed ‘submit’ on your claim, but your job’s not done yet. In order 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 on 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. Once the State of Oregon Employment Department has reviewed your application, they’ll send you a Notice of Determination confirming their decision. If your claim has been approved, payments should begin 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 days of the mailing date of the determination. The determination will include full instructions on what information needs to be submitted in support of the appeal, and the process you’ll need to follow. Don’t forget to continue to certify your claim weekly while the appeal is still ongoing.