State will make one deadline, miss another in unemployment payments

WASHINGTON — Fifty members of the Washington National Guard arrived at an Employment Security Department location Thursday to start training to work on identity verification issues.

Their arrival comes as ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine admitted the state will miss its self-imposed deadline — which already included a two-week extension — to address all claimants under Operation 100%.

That mission was launched to resolve cases by June 15, then later by June 30, for everyone who was eligible and in adjudication as of May 1. The current total number of cases is 33,393.

“Is ESD still on track to get the money to those 33,393 people?” KIRO 7 reporter Linzi Sheldon asked Thursday afternoon.

“We are not, unfortunately,” LeVine said. “That 33,000 represents the people who have filed a claim between March 8th and May 1st. And we will be able to get them resolved — and I want to be careful to use the language of ‘resolved’ because some of them may not be eligible, but resolved — that, we will be able to hit by July 13.”

LeVine said the state does expect to meet its other deadline, June 19, for resolving the claims of roughly 42,000 remaining people who had been receiving payments until they were paused by ID verification in mid-May.

But the guard will still have plenty of work to do.

“There are more individuals who had either not been receiving payments by that point, or who have since then been identified for ID verification,” LeVine said, “So that work will continue.”

LeVine said she expects to have another 50 members starting in the next two weeks.

Karen Rapponotti is still waiting for her payment.

“We’re going into week five now of pending,” she said. She, too, has joined the Washington Unemployment Support Group Facebook page, now up to more than 12,000 members.

“We’re not asking for anything out of the ordinary,” she said. “We’re just asking for results.”

The ESD also announced Thursday it recovered $13 million dollars more from fraudsters.

That means it’s recovered about $350 million in total, LeVine said. The state believes criminals stole anywhere from $550 million to $650 million.