State processes record number of applications for unemployment benefits

State processes record number of applications for unemployment benefits

Employment Security Department had challenges with the volume

Employment Security Department had challenges with the volume

With the launch of new benefits Saturday night, the state Employment Security Department in Olympia received more applications (including expanded, extended and traditional benefits) in a single day than the biggest week on record, which was 182,000 applications in the week ending March 28.

For comparison, the 182,000 applications in a week was already seven times the peak week for the 2008/2009 recession.

“The amazing news is that hundreds of thousands of our fellow Washingtonians have already applied and have or will receive much-needed relief right away. That said, we appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we manage this enormous volume,” said Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine in a Monday news release.

Independent contractors, self -employed and part-time employees (who worked fewer than 680 hours in their base year) became eligible to apply for benefits under the expansion of unemployment benefits approved by Congress.

“Last week, I warned everyone this would be a clunky process and some of that has come true,” LeVine said. “We know many people have been unable to access the system and submit their applications. We know how frustrating this is and are adapting in real time to this massive influx of new claimants as best we can. Most importantly, we want to reassure everyone that those who are eligible will get their money and that they will be paid retroactive to their date of eligibility. This is a source of funding that won’t run out.”

As is expected in a major technology roll-out, several issues have been identified and the team started resolving those concerns starting Saturday night. They continue to look for opportunities to improve performance and have seen application numbers rising since mid-morning on Sunday, demonstrating that those efforts are working.

Top issues we are seeing and challenges we are facing:

* High volume in weekly claims: In addition to the incredible influx of new applications, Sunday is also the day on which many people file their weekly benefit claims. This increased the number of site users, which exacerbated the performance issues for many customers.

* While many are coming prepared and we have seen 257,144 downloads of our instruction guides and checklists, many people are still making common mistakes when filling out the application. These avoidable errors could lead to people having to resolve it with a call center agent or go through adjudication. This will slow down their ability to receive benefits. It is important to read the website and download and use the checklists and guidance documents before applying.

A few tips to help:

* It is important to remember that you can apply for these benefits at any point, and weekly claims can be submitted anytime, Sunday to Saturday, to be paid for the previous week.

* Again, the unemployment benefits programs will not run out of money and you will be paid retroactively to the date you are eligible.

* You do not need to do anything to receive the additional $600 per week enhancement.

* To reach us by phone:

Have questions (after you’ve checked the website first): 833-572-8400

Filing your weekly claim over the phone: 800-318-6022

Claims inquiries that can’t be answered online: 800-318-6022

* Visit the new help page on the website for additional tips for success: esd.wa.gov/unemployment/help.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@auburn-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.auburn-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Business

A heatmap showing the inclusivity of each state, which is based on the total Business Climate Score. The green states are the most inclusive, while the red are least inclusive; yellow and orange fall in the middle. Courtesy of Out Leadership.
Washington ranks 13th in State LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index

Washington’s lowest score was 13 out of 20 points in the Work Environment and Employment section.

tsr
Dick’s Drive-In to open new location in Federal Way

This will be Dick’s ninth burger restaurant; plans to open in 2023.

(Left to right) Bill, Nina and Tom Contoravdis, co-owners of Athens Pizza and Pasta, pose for a photo in front of their restaurant that is set to re-open for take-out on Friday, April 1. Photo by Henry Stewart-Wood/Sound Publishing
After 16 months, Athens Pizza and Pasta re-opens on April 1

A fire forced the restaurant to close after 40 years of business in Auburn.

Auburn has embraced Sea Axe, the first ever axe-throwing range ever to settle in the city, as this band of customers demonstrates. Photo courtesy of Duke Managhan
Business partners hit the bullseye with Auburn’s first axe-throwing range

At first, Duke Managhan and his close friend and business partner, Vance… Continue reading

Photo by Robert Whale/Auburn Reporter
Zola’s Café owner Matt Noesen is ready for normal times and business to resume at his downtown Auburn eatery.
Downtown Auburn cafe among businesses awaiting the return to ‘normal’

After all this time, Matt Noesen’s feet and back ache, and the… Continue reading

Robert Toomey, CFA/CFP, is Vice President of Research for S. R. Schill & Associates on Mercer Island.
Volatility and disciplined planning in 2022’s stock market | Guest column

The stock market in January experienced significantly increased volatility. In the first… Continue reading

Teaser
SeaAxe Throwing is coming to downtown Auburn

‘It’s kind of like darts on steroids,’ says co-owner.

Snoqualmie Casino. Courtesy photo
Kirkland-based company sues to challenge ‘tribal gaming monopoly’ in Washington

Company called the state’s policy an “erroneous application of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.”

Robert Toomey, CFA/CFP, is Vice President of Research for S. R. Schill & Associates on Mercer Island.
The forces behind our current COVID-induced inflation | Guest column

Recent inflation numbers have been quite high and at levels not seen… Continue reading

Robert Toomey, CFA/CFP, is Vice President of Research for S. R. Schill & Associates on Mercer Island.
The ‘year end’ elements of financial planning | Guest column

With the end of the year fast approaching, we remind clients that… Continue reading