Bi-state Funemployment Confusion
May 1, 2020 4:03 PM   Subscribe

Please help me untangle this Washington / Oregon unemployment mess so I can get paid.

I live in Washington state. I have worked full-time in Washington since September 2019. I got furloughed last Friday due to 'rona (I work commercial construction and it's all but completely shut down).

I don't have enough hours in my base year to be eligible for WA unemployment. I DO have sufficient hours in my alternate base year.

Washington sent me a message on the unemployment website saying that I have an "open" claim in Oregon (I drew some unemployment in Oregon back in spring/summer 2019) and I need to use that first.

Timeline: I worked January, February, and March 2019 in Oregon. I did not work again until September. I drew unemployment for part of that time while I was looking for work, but also took some of it as a personal sabbatical to go traveling and did not draw unemployment (since I wasn't available to work). Then, I moved to Seattle and started my current job in September. I've worked basically full-time since then. I was furloughed April 24th due to coronavirus and got this confusing response from WA unemployment today.

FWIW, I am in a union and technically the union does the looking-for-work for me.

(1) If I have to draw OR unemployment, it pays significantly less than WA. I would prefer to file in WA. How do I get them to use my alternate base year?

(2) How do I find out if I even have an open OR claim? Their website appears to say I have to call in since I filed in WA, but whenever I call I get a busy signal.

(3) Would I even be eligible in OR, since I worked so little there in 2019?

(4) Help!
posted by cnidaria to Work & Money (4 answers total)
Response by poster: Also, I just got this information now, which means I technically need to file for unemployment with Oregon by 5pm today on the phone, but I only get a busy signal when I call. Will that mean I'll lose this week of benefits?
posted by cnidaria at 4:07 PM on May 1, 2020

Best answer: (2) How do I find out if I even have an open OR claim? Their website appears to say I have to call in since I filed in WA, but whenever I call I get a busy signal.

When you filed in Oregon back in spring/summer '19, did you do any of it online? My experience (Ohio) is that you are "in the claim system" for a full year from your initial filing (because states tend to allow "X" number of weeks of unemployment in a calendar year), and/or once you've registered with the UI system in the first place you're in it forever.

IOW, if you did any of it in OR online & can remember/find your username & password you should be able to log in online rather than call, at least to see if OR still has you on their books as an "open" claim.

("Open" meaning, I'm pretty sure, that if you're still within 52 weeks of your first initial filing in OR and did not use the full number of weeks allowed of UI, you're still technically eligible for OR UI.)
posted by soundguy99 at 4:24 PM on May 1, 2020

Best answer: You can call the Washington Unemployment Law Project's free Telephone Helpline for guidance and advice that applies to your specific situation, and my general understanding is that retroactive benefits are available, at least pursuant to the CARES Act (Oregon ED).
posted by katra at 6:01 PM on May 1, 2020

None of the advice in my question about how to reach Oregon unemployment helped me (I didn't want to bother a state rep over something I'm sure they already know about) and I STILL haven't been able to reach them (I don't even have mail from them with whatever my personal identifying number is supposed to be!) but maybe some of the advice can help you reach them.
posted by aniola at 10:14 AM on May 2, 2020

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