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Residents still waiting for unemployment checks after ESD declares backlog cleared

The news that so many Washingtonians had been waiting for came Monday as the state Employment Security Department (ESD) Commissioner Suzi LeVine said the department hit the target for “Operation 100%” by resolving all 81,508 unemployment claims that were in the target group. She declared it “milestone met,” but listeners of KIRO Radio’s Gee & Ursula Show immediately said that’s not the case.

“I take exception to the news that unemployment claims are resolved — 15 weeks and I have not received one payment,” a listener texted in.

Another said their account is still locked due to the fraud attempts, while a third said they have a family member whose claim has not been cleared.

Washington announces it has cleared unemployment backlog of over 81,000 claims 

KIRO Radio reporter Nicole Jennings put out a call on Facebook asking folks if they had received their checks yet and has already received hundreds of comments from people saying they haven’t.

Deb Holmberg’s unemployment claim has been ignored for nearly three months.

“I’m a copious note taker so I’ve got pages and pages and pages of how much time I’ve spent calling ESD, the people I’ve talked to, what has happened, what hasn’t happened, what I’ve sent them,” Holmberg said. “I would estimate anywhere from five to six hours every time I have attempted to do something with them. … It’s not every day that I take the time to reach out to them because I know there’s not going to be any response.”

When she heard the announcement from ESD, she couldn’t believe it.

“I thought how could you report this when this isn’t true?” she said. “I mean, I’m not one to reach out and talk about these types of things, but that just blew me over.”

She doesn’t have children at home, and is thankful for that as she says she can’t imagine trying to raise a family or have people depending on you as you wait months to receive a check.

Luckily, Holmberg said she’s been able to fall back on her savings, but she’s also had to reach out to her parents for help, and has sold stuff online to get more money however she can.

“There’s so many weeks that have gone by and all the people that I talked to at ESD, the lies that I’ve heard are horrific. I’ve just heard so many things from them, … individuals that answer the phone say no, we get a script every day, and this is what we’re supposed to tell you.”

One gentleman, she recalled, said if she had children at home they might be able to push the claim through quicker.

“I’ve been told when I do get a hold of someone there that they’re told to say these things and, you know, if you have certain things, they can try to push it through,” Holmberg said. “And I thought, this shouldn’t be. Everyone should get the same service and their claims should be looked at the same.”

“My heart breaks for people that have families and children, and they’re losing their homes and cars and they can’t pay the rent,” she added. “It’s awful. Absolutely awful.”

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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