OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission says more than 17,000 people who could have been eligible for benefits from FEMA’s Lost Wages Assistance Program did not receive their benefits.
“I’m relying on this LWA very badly. It’s sad. Not only am I worried about myself, but I’m worried about my fellow Oklahomans too,” said Dustin Miville, who did not receive his benefits.
OESC Director Shelley Zumwalt told KFOR almost half-a-million payments were processed this week. The agency realized some went wrong Wednesday.
“When we realized there were people who legitimately should have gotten those benefits, we acted right away,” said Zumwalt.
Zumwalt says the reason some did not receive benefits was because of a simple question the claimants should have answered when applying for benefits.
“We realized really quickly that the majority of the people we were analyzing had either answered no to the question ‘are you unemployed due to COVID?’ or they had not answered the question,” she said.
Zumwalt says however small the question may seem, it’s actually crucial to the process for claimants to answer.
“We had to make sure that if we get audited for those benefits that we have in writing that they say ‘I am unemployed due to COVID,’” Zumwalt said.
OESC sent out an email to claimants late Wednesday afternoon with a questionnaire determining the reason they became unemployed.
Zumwalt says once claimants answer the questions, it should take one to two business days for their benefits to process if they are eligible.
If you believe you are eligible and you did not receive an email, visit this website https://oesc.ok.gov/ and click on the orange banner at the top to fill out the questionnaire.
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