Local woman having issues receiving Oregon unemployment benefits

MEDFORD, Ore. – NBC5 News heard from a former Asante employee who’s saying she’s had trouble receiving her unemployment benefits from Oregon.

Catherine Bogan was one of Asante’s 3% of workers laid off in February by the health system. She said she’s been experiencing severe delays in call times with the state employment office and receiving letters of verification; and she also says she’s not the only one.

Catherine Bogan began the process to receive unemployment benefits in the midst of a system change. Frances Online is the new system for unemployment insurance and paid leave Oregon benefits, which launched in early March. Bogan said one of the requirements to receive benefits is to go to the local WorkSource office to verify your identity to avoid fraud.

“And they literally check a box that’s on my profile that says that my identity has been verified and that satisfies the requirement and tells unemployment it’s legit.”

However, Bogan received news that her benefits, that she relies on, weren’t going to come through.

“I got a letter that said I have been denied unemployment, that I did not qualify because I did not verify my identity. And I thought, ‘I did. I went in there.”

Bogan tried to reach out to the help number listed in the letter, but she said she and many others were unable to get through,

“People are sometimes able to get through and they’re on hold for literally anywhere from three to five hours only to have their call dropped.”

She went back to the local office but was told they don’t handle unemployment claims. Bogan said staff at the local office suspect the switch to the new Frances Online system is what’s causing a lot of the issues.

“Eventually I did get a letter from unemployment that said, ‘here’s your one-time secret passcode that you need to enter into the computer system to verify your identity.’ But it’s only good for about five days and it had expired like three days and other people were saying the same thing. They had finally got these letters to find out they were expired.”

Bogan said she’s been getting by solely off of her savings account and a GoFundMe set up by her friends. Bogan said,

“I can’t talk to anyone on the phone, our local people can’t help me and I keep sending these messages not knowing if they’re being received. In the meantime, I literally have no money coming into my house.”

Last week, the Oregon Employment Department told Portland NBC affiliate, KGW, its updating its letter sending process to make sure customers have enough time to respond to their verification codes. We reached out to the agency Monday for comment but have not heard back regarding the concerns.

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Maximus Osburn is a reporter for NBC5 News. He studied at California State University-Northridge, graduating with a degree in Broadcasting. Maximus is an avid martial arts enthusiast and combat sports fan. He even traveled to Thailand to train with martial arts experts. Maximus loves movies, nature, and doing things outside his comfort zone, like swimming in sub-freezing lakes in the winter.
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