Employment Security commissioner Suzan “Suzi” LeVine updated businesses this week in a memo regarding her department’s efforts to clear backlogged unemployment claims while recovering from fraudulent claims made via identity thefts.
Unprecedented claims when the coronavirus entered Washington State have resulted in claimants not receiving unemployment benefit for weeks, if not months after they were due payments. ESD also has fallen victim to an international identity theft scandal that resulted in millions of dollars of improper payments.
Here’s a summary of LeVine’s update:
- The number of claimants who filed beginning on March 8 who remain waiting for benefits has been reduced from 81,508 on June 18 to 31,086.
- The reduced trust fund balance is at $2.8 billion.
- The department has gone to outbound calling and callbacks to applicants to speed up the processing of overdue claims. Callbacks, for example, have increased from 75 per day to 125 per day.
- Businesses are not responsible for benefit charges for fraudulent claims filed in their employees’ names and their experience ratings will not be impacted by unemployment imposter fraud.
- In May, the Legislature allocated $25 million towards relief of benefit charges for businesses from the state COVID-19 relief fund. This week, ESD will be releasing rules regarding how businesses will be able to apply for those funds.