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Problem Solvers Coronavirus Hotline: Oklahomans Still Having Trouble Receiving Benefits

Posted at 8:25 PM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 21:25:46-04

Nearly 200,000 Oklahomans have filed for unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic. But, as we’re hearing from many viewers, getting those unemployment benefits seems nearly impossible.

One viewer reached out to our problem solvers coronavirus hotline and said, “My Oklahoma unemployment debit card has zero dollars on it, but my account says the money was deposited on April 20.” Another viewer said, “My husband received a card with a zero balance.”

We spoke with Robin Roberson, executive director of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, who said, “Our weeks run Saturday to Sunday. So, if you file on a Monday, you will get a card typically within two business days, but there won't be any funds on it until that following Monday because it won't process until Sunday. That’s why people have to re-file weekly claims.”

Roberson explained, “If you're new to unemployment, know that not only do you have to file that initial week for you to continue to receive benefits; you have to go in and update your weekly claim.”

But for some, there is a much bigger issue. One viewer told our problem solvers, “I was approved in March and still file weekly but do not have my card.” Another said, “I was approved for benefits and was suppose to be paid on April 20, but I never received my card from the unemployment office.”

Here’s the thing: The cards do not come from the unemployment office; the OESC uses a vendor called Conduent for issuance of the cards.

Roberson said, “The vendor ran out of cards and that's why so many people are receiving like a generic debit card versus one that has our logo on it. We didn't want to stop anyone from receiving cards, so we sent out generic ones. I would also encourage people to use the ACH the automated deposit option versus debit cards.”

2 Works for You also received a statement from the OESC that said, “The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission is working closely with Conduent to deal with recent issues relating to the issuance of Oklahoma UI debit cards and the timely deposit of funds on such cards. With the USPS experiencing staff shortages at such a high level, current expectations can run as high as 16 to 18 days for the initial receipt of cards. This was compounded by a recent system mishap that led to a 1 to 2 day delay on deposits.”

Conduent released the following statement.

We are working closely with the State of Oklahoma to fulfill the unprecedented increase in disbursement of unemployment benefits. As indicated, a number of entities are involved in working as quickly as possible to get cards into the hands of hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans in need. We continue to deliver our portion of the fulfillment as rapidly as possible, and we are working cooperatively with the State and other vendors to make sure that Oklahomans get their benefits as quickly as possible.

If there is a coronavirus question you would like our problem solvers to look into, call our coronavirus hotline at 918-748-1502 and leave a message.

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