48,000 Washingtonians waiting for unemployment application approval

SPOKANE, Wash. — Unemployment troubles continue for thousands of Washingtonians. Many are still waiting for applications approval and out of the adjudication process.

If an application is pending due to adjudication, the Employment Security Department said a person’s application has “one or more issues that ESD must review.” For people like John Mark Howard, it’s been a waiting game for five weeks.

“After a while I was just like, I feel like I was beating my head against a brick wall,” Howard said. “Just kinda useless. There’s nothing I can do.”

He got furloughed from LensCrafters on April 22. They gave him emergency pay for a period of time and let employees keep their benefits. He filed for unemployment the same day.

“Got everything filled out, and of course at that time the site was still crashing a lot,” Howard explained. “It still crashes sometimes, but it took me — I was online for probably six to eight hours.”

Howard said the application didn’t have a furlough option, so he marked laid off. After he submitted the application, he got a response.

“On April 28, it says that I was in adjudication,” he said. “They say you’re in adjudication, but it could literally be anything. They don’t give you any idea.”

Issues could be a wrong birth date, misspelling of a name or something the employer entered in wrong.

“And I double checked all the information over and over again,” Howard said. “Entered in everything correctly and from what I could tell I put everything in there correctly.”

For benefit of the doubt, he waited about two weeks before calling them. Howard then called at least 600 times, sent e-mails and no response. He got through to a representative, but said they couldn’t help and an agent needed to speak to him. However, he would have to call back.

“Once I was realizing that my claim wasn’t going to get resolved very quickly, that’s kind of when the panic kinda sets in a little bit,” Howard said. “My biggest thing you know, coming up in June with bills due. I’m hoping my claim gets resolved by then, but it might not.”

According to ESD, as of May 11, 48,054 people are in the adjudication process. They said it typically takes three weeks to process from the time the issue was recognized to determine whether a person qualifies. Since the start of the pandemic, $3.8 billion has been paid out for benefits.

Howard reached out to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Rep. Matt Shea. Rep. McMorris Rodgers got back to him and gave him a few resources, but he remains at a standstill.

“It’s kind of a hurry up and wait, you know, I’m very thankful I work for the company that I do because they’ve been wonderful,” Howard explained. “I’m just going to keep calling and hopefully get an answer. Maybe from a state representative, somebody so that I can hopefully figure out why my claim is in adjudication and get that issue resolved so I can hopefully get some money.”

ESD said all claims will be resolved and out of adjudication by June 15, as long as they were submitted before May 1. By July 1, ESD said their adjudication processing time will be cut down to 21 days.

In Spokane County, the Unemployment Law Project is helping people like Howard.

If you’re having troubling getting benefits or got denied, contact them at (509) 624-9178.

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