‘Out of balance’ answers holding up 65,000 unemployment claims

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Viewers continue to reach out to KFOR with questions about unemployment.

These KFOR viewers say they filed as many as six weeks ago, but still haven’t received their benefits.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission says some of those delays can be avoided, but it’s all about how you file your claim.

“When you certify weekly, be consistent with what you told the commission week one versus week two, versus week three,” Secretary of Digital Transformation David Ostrowe said. “If there is any inconsistencies in that data, all of a sudden that could stall the claim.”

Ostrowe says there are around 450,000 active unemployment claims, and as many as 65,000 of those claims are being held up by “out of balance” answers.

“I said week one that I was looking for work, and week two, I said I wasn’t looking for work,” Ostrowe said. “Keep in mind this is insurance. If you’re not looking for work, that could stall your claim or delay your claim.”

All it takes is one wrong answer or inconsistency on your weekly claim for it to hit a snag. There are questions like, “Are there conditions that restrict your ability to work?” It’s easy to assume that COVID-19 is keeping you from work, but answering yes to that question is a red flag.

“We know that the corona virus is out there, we know people are not able to work because of that,” Jim Polly with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission said. “If you say yes to this, it’s going to stop your claim.”

Officials say it’s important to answer questions like it’s life as normal, because all of the questions were made pre-pandemic.

“Any time they answer them and it brings up extra fact finding – like, if I said ‘No’ to this one – it’s going to ask me additional questions,” Polly said. “Any time it asks additional questions, we’re stopping the claim.”

At the same time, OESC says it’s working to fix the issue.

“Say they said they weren’t working their normal number of hours, so we stopped the claim,” Polly said. “We’re taking those off without even looking at them.”

When filling out your claim, if it is COVID-19 related, make sure you list the reason for separation from your job as “lack of work.”

It’s also important to note that you can’t file for Pandemic Unemployment until you’ve been denied for regular unemployment.

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