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WA resident on her maze-like experience getting unemployment

A stack of unemployment forms. (Getty Images)

The unemployment woes for tens of thousands of Washingtonians is not over yet. But for some, it’s finally been resolved, and it has not been easy. Lisa from Bellevue spent months looking for a resolution so she could get her unemployment benefits, and experienced quite a maze in doing so, even getting a notice that she owed the state money.

“I applied for unemployment right after I was let go and had no problem. They contacted my former employer, they confirmed that it was a legitimate layoff, and I started receiving benefits,” she said. “On May 16, all of a sudden I received a notice that my benefits were being held, pending my ability to prove my identity.”

“I sent some of the information that they had requested in the timeline that they had requested it … they sent me another letter and basically said that they had not received the information that they had requested, and that I now not only was not going to get any more benefits, but that I had to return $6,950 in benefits that I have received.”

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She was further told that if she didn’t return the money, they would take it out of her bank account or dock her wages.

“Which actually put me into hysterical laughter,” Lisa said. “Because if I had wages, why the hell would I have have been applying for unemployment benefits?”

What was her next step?

“A lot of screaming and swearing, and trying to figure out how I could start a class action lawsuit against the state. I talked to some of my friends and discovered that they were experiencing the same sort of situation that I was experiencing,” she said.

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“I filed the appeal and I was advised on their site the appeal had been received, and that I would receive a letter with my adjudication date. Two weeks go by and I still haven’t gotten anything. And then all of a sudden, out of the blue on July 2, I went to the site again … and it showed that that I was being paid for all of my back wages,” she said.

“So the total time was basically about two months, and I never could get a hold of anybody by phone.”

Beyond her own experience, she worries about how the unemployment office is operating and the people who are having an even worse financial time than she is.

“It makes me wonder what’s going on over there, because there’s a lot of people — I was fortunate my husband’s working — a lot of people where everybody in the family is unemployed, and they have justifiable claims, and they’re not receiving their benefits,” she said.

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