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How we’re fixing Oklahoma’s broken benefits system

As executive director, my focus will be on improving the technology Oklahomans use to access their benefits. In the short term, I’m implementing a digital update that will help us process claims faster online and prevent fraud. And, in the longer term, I am reworking the existing five-year technology improvement plan to be fully implemented in 18 months. This will mean our systems will finally be able to handle claims more efficiently, while also addressing ongoing technology issues that have prevented claimants from getting their payments quickly.

We are still managing about 5,000-10,000 backlogged claims each week and processing them as quickly as we can, while continuing to work with the U.S. Department of Labor to identify potentially fraudulent claims in our system, and implementing the Lost Wages Assistance program.

I know how hard it is to have to make tough decisions for a family. That’s why I am committed to work for Oklahomans until everyone in this state receives the help they need. How we get people their unemployment benefits is more important now than it has ever been. As we continue to navigate this pandemic as a country and as a state, we must keep moving forward with bold decisions that serve our citizens in their greatest time of need.

Zumwalt is executive director of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.

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