At least 55,000 people in Washington wait for unemployment decisions

At least 55,000 people in Washington wait for unemployment decisions
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Nicole Bostic, of Tacoma, owns a pet training business. And she's one of more than 55,000 unemployment applicants whose cases who are in adjudication.

Adjudication is when the state has to take a second look at an application.

Suzi LeVine heads the Employment Security Department and says the reasons why could be for errors or possible fraud.

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“And when information isn’t matching, it will set an issue. That’s the language that we use. It will hold up a claim conceivably for an individual until we can validate that information,” says Commissioner LeVine.

The issue is this: the state can’t tell Nicole or anyone else when their case will get an approval or denial.

“And here we are now, the first week of May,” says Nicole. “And I did this in the middle of April and I’m still waiting.”

LeVine says there are 125 adjudicators to handle these 55,000-plus cases. They’ve been able to bring that number down from about 90,000.

She did say the department is rolling out a plan to address certain adjudication issues in en masse over the next few days.

“So we are working on that plan that will deliver an all-of-the-above approach, and strategies to address that very large queue,” says Commissioner LeVine.

Nicole says someone from the state did contact her after we sent in her case. But she wonders why it took going to the press to get a call back.

“I didn’t get a follow-up phone call, not even when I left messages in the system through the account. And he said there’s thousands of other people and we’re not staffed enough to get to everybody,” says Nicole.

For Nicole, whose work dried up in February, her application can’t be considered too soon.

“It would help me greatly, because I could pay my creditors as well as my mortgage.”

See the rest of our reporting on Washington’s unemployment crisis: