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State officials say improvements are being made to Oregon unemployment process

The Oregon Employment Department (OED) has implemented a new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) form on their website. Department officials say the form will streamline approval and benefits for hundreds of thousands of Oregonians.

The new application, made in conjunction with Google, has three major improvements: accelerated weekly benefit processing, higher submission success and easier formatting to ensure applications are filled out correctly.

Individuals seeking assistance are required to submit weekly certifications in order to qualify for benefits. Prior to the new online form, Oregonians filled out a PDF application every week and sent it to the OED. Officials characterized the initial program was clumsy, time-consuming and resource intensive.

The new form automates the weekly certification process and greatly reduces waiting times, they said.

David Gerstenfeld, the acting director of the Oregon Employment Department, took it on himself to correct the program.

"I made fixing the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance application issue a top priority because we knew it was impacting our ability to get claims processed quickly," he said.

In addition to slow processing, applications were often riddled with mistakes, which required the OED to send back the form to would-be recipients. The new form will notify individuals about which information is required and if the application is filled out incorrectly. The OED affirms that this will allow them to process claims faster and reduce delays.

"The temporary solution, a PDF application, was cumbersome and prone to errors," Gerstenfeld said. "This new form will fix many of the previous issues and help get benefits into the hands of Oregonians more quickly."

The department launched a new website, www.unemployment.oregon.gov, in addition to the application. The website aims to provide more unemployment information to Oregonians and will be available in 15 different languages to ensure equal access to benefits for all.

"This is an encouraging step forward for Oregonians who have been waiting for benefits, as well as for the department," Gerstenfeld said. "I am pleased we have made these changes and pledge that we will continue finding better ways to serve you."

Those seeking to file for PUA can access the form via the department's online claim system at https://bit.ly/2ZL5LaS.


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