BREAKING NEWS—$500 Emergency Checks Available to those Waiting for Unemployment

| August 19, 2020

Breaking News—$500 Emergency Checks Available to those Waiting for Unemployment

The Oregon Legislature authorized $500 emergency checks for individuals who have struggled to receive their unemployment benefits.  The program was just launched today.  Here are the criteria:

  • Earned $4,000/month or less pre-tax prior to your income loss due to COVID-19
  • Are suffering financial hardship due to the Governor’s executive orders in respone to COVID-19
  • Are a resident of Oregon and can prove your identity
  • Are not current on your unemployment payments
    • Current means you have received all payments for weeks claimed except for the current claim week. Applicants should count base payments for traditional Unemployment Insurance and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program – not the $600 enhanced payment that ended July 31, 2020. Do not count your waiting week to determine whether or not you are current.
    • You may be eligible if you never applied for or were denied unemployment.
    • You may be eligible if you are not current on unemployment benefits but have since returned to work. current on your unemployment payments

Applications are taken through local financial institutions and, if approved, checks will be issued the same day.  Learn more at  This is the only information that we currently have about this new program. 

PUA Survey

Please take a moment to fill out our survey to let us know about the status of your unemployment benefit claims and your experience applying for benefits.  The survey is anonymous (unless you want to provide your contact information) and the information will help us learn if our members are still struggling to receive their unemployment benefits and will inform our advocacy on unemployment benefit issues going forward.  The survey can be taken here:

Other Unemployment Updates  

  • Congress is still gridlocked on the issue of whether or not to extend the additional $600 per week payment that was included as part of the CARES Act, and which expired several weeks ago.  It’s looking increasingly likely that they will be unable to agree on a package as the Senate has adjourned until after Labor Day.
  • The Trump administration announced its own unemployment benefits executive order that would add $300 per week to unemployment benefits.  However its unclear at this point if and how this will be implemented.
  • At a special session earlier this month the Legislature increased the amount of money that a person on unemployment can earn from part-time work before having their unemployment benefits reduced.
  • The US Department of Labor has updated the definition of “gross earnings” such that PUA recipients who are also earning some income from work may be able to qualify for higher weekly benefit amounts.  The Oregon Employment Department has created a form where PUA applicants/recipients can update their previous weekly claims under the new definition, potentially increasing the amount they will receive in benefits.  Learn more here:
  • The Employment Department launched a new “benefits while you wait” program for individuals whose unemployment claims are in adjudication because its unclear if they qualify for regular unemployment benefits or PUA benefits for self-employed/independent contractors.  The Department says that it is notifying individuals who qualify, but you can learn more here.

Don’t forget to take the survey here.