Dear constituents and friends,
You are all aware by now of the ongoing and persistent crisis within the Oregon Employment Department and its inability to get thousands of furloughed Oregon workers their benefits in a timely manner. Since the beginning of this pandemic, I have been reaching out to OED and Governor Brown's office on behalf of hundreds of my constituents who have been struggling to get through to OED to process their claims and get the employment benefits they have earned, they are owed, and that they desperately need to pay their bills, feed their kids, and keep a roof over their head.
Although the Legislature does not control OED, we have the ability through the Oregon Emergency Board to allocate funds in emergency situations. Last month, I and my colleagues who serve with me on the Emergency Board decided to create a $35 million fund to disperse one-time $500 payments to workers who are still waiting for their unemployment benefits. I was happy to help get this program enacted and am glad that it is finally being rolled out.
In this newsletter I want to provide an outline about what the program is, who is eligible, and how funds will be dispersed. To learn more, the Oregonian published an article today about this that is worth reading. If you know anyone who is still waiting for their unemployment benefits, please let them know this program exists. Feel free to forward this email to anyone who might be helped by it.
I know that a $500 check is not enough to address the situation too many Oregonians find themselves in, but hopefully this money will help a little until furloughed workers receive the full amount of their benefits. This payment will not affect the amount of unemployment benefits someone is eligible for once people begin receiving their benefits checks.
This is a first-come, first-serve program. The Emergency Board has only limited funds from the Federal CARES Act to spend on pandemic response programs. This program to get people $500 checks has a maximum limit of $35 million. Once the money is gone, it’s gone. Please apply ASAP to make sure you can get this $500 payment and don’t miss out. Please see below for details about the program.
Determining eligibility for the program. Eligible applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Are a current resident of Oregon.
- Attest to being over the age of 18. Date of birth will be noted on the application form.
- Are experiencing severe financial hardship due to the Governor’s Executive orders 20-07 or 20-12 or indirect hardship due to the orders.
These are the ‘Stay Home, Save Lives’ orders that closed many restaurants and personal services to slow the spread of COVID-19. Many sectors – like personal transportation services – were indirectly affected by the orders and may have resulted in a loss of income.
- Earned $4,000/month or less pre-tax prior to their income loss due to COVID-19.
- Are NOT current on their unemployment payments:
- Current means they have received all payments for weeks claimed except for the current claim week. Not current means they are missing one or more payment. Applicants should count base payments for traditional Unemployment Insurance and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program – not the $600 enhanced payment that ended July 31, 2020. Applicants should not include the “waiting” week in their calculation of current benefits.
- Applicants may be eligible if they never applied for or were denied unemployment.
- Applicants may still be eligible if they are not current on unemployment benefits but have since returned to work.
Where to go to apply:
- Go to https://emergencychecks.oregon.gov where participating institutions will be listed
- If you do not have internet access, you can call 2-1-1, where a live operator will refer you to the branch location(s) nearest to you by zip code
How the money will be dispersed:
- Participating financial institutions are taking applications and making funds available by check, direct deposit, cash or prepaid card.
- Applicants do not need to have a relationship or account with any of the participating institutions to apply.
- No institution will require applicants to create an account to access funds.
- An applicant can only receive one $500 payment if found eligible. Each financial institution will check a database prior to payment to ensure that multiple benefits aren’t paid to any individuals.
Know before you go:
- Each institution – bank or credit union – will manage transactions according to their capacity. Some may take walk-in applications and others may accept applications online and schedule in-person appointments when received. Many branches are doing both.
- Find the branch nearest them
- Call ahead or check the branch’s website – sites are linked on the main page – to understand how they are accepting applications
- Complete your application
- Ensure proof of ID and/or proof of residency meet the list of acceptable documents
- Follow the preparation steps listed below to ensure a smooth transaction
- Some branches will take walk-in applicants without an appointment. For a more efficient walk-in experience, applicants are strongly encouraged to print and fill out the application in advance. Branch locations will have paper copies available for those who need them.
- Some financial institutions will accept electronic submissions and direct constituents to schedule an appointment to finalize their submission. Others will schedule an appointment to receive the application in person. In either case, payment will be made in-person. Applicants should ensure they have a copy of their physical form of ID and proof of residency when visiting the branch for payment.
Follow public health guidelines in light of the pandemic:
- This program prioritizes same-day in-person payment when an applicant is found to be eligible to ensure Oregonians are not waiting by the mailbox for a check that might not arrive. In order to accomplish this safely, applicants must adhere to public health guidelines. Each participating location will have signage or other visible requirements for entering their branch. Please wear a mask!
For more information about the program, please visit https://emergencychecks.oregon.gov. If you are having trouble accessing your unemployment benefits and you live in my district, please get in touch with me at Rep.RobNosse@OregonLegislature.gov. If you are not certain who the state legislators are who represent the part of Oregon you live in, please enter your address here to find their contact info so you can ask them to help you out.
All the best,