New OESC Interim Director says 29% of backlogged unemployment claims have been processed

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – On just her third full day as Interim Director of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, Shelley Zumwalt says OESC has processed 29% of the backlogged claims. 

We’ve heard from countless Oklahomans waiting on their benefits, and Zumwalt says they are doing everything the can to process claims and put money in their pockets.  

“If you did the simple math at the process we were going,” Zumwalt said. “It would be 2022 before we processed the backlog of claims, without a bold action.”

Zumwalt says that action was going through the entire backlog of claims, and finding out which questions and other parts of the the application were slowing people down.  

“Seeing what percentage of the applicants were getting hung up on certain questions like, are you able and available for work,” Zumwalt said. “Which during a pandemic means something different than it does during normal time.”

OESC wants to have the majority of remaining claims processed by next Monday. That includes back pay for previous weeks. 

A process that showed OESC that they were behind on more claims than they realized.  

“By backdating that, people became eligible for other weeks. We quickly saw that the numbers we had in front of us were not accurate,” Zumwalt said. “What we were doing was processing those claims in multiples of threes, and fours, and fives.”

A small group still waiting on their benefits attended Monday’s press conference. 

Zumwalt spoke with each of them, took their information, and promised to get their claims taken care of.   

“I haven’t had any money since March 20th when I was laid off.  I’m just so greatful that somebody is going to actually talk to me face to face,” Constance Hill told News 4. “I mean I was here an hour early just to make sure I was right in line. Finally, I was able to talk to somebody.”

OESC also says it’s launching news questions for its pandemic unemployment assistance application tomorrow. 

The questions are designed to make the process easier to understand and navigate.

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