The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission is changing its approach as it pays out extended unemployment benefits with the hopes of moving faster. Nearly 35,000 people have received their first payment.
"Kind of for the first time ever, the agency was able to pay out benefits within less than a week for the first filing date," said Shelley Zumwalt, the Executive Director of OESC.
OESC is working in phases to distribute the benefits.
"I wanted to see if there was a possibility to pay the people that had been paid the least amount of money and for us, the least amount of work and development time," said Zumwalt.
Friday, the first group paid out were claimants eligible for the Continued Assistance Act. Those are Oklahomans who have not exhausted their benefits from the previous year.
In the coming weeks, those who exhausted their benefits before December 26 should see payments starting around January 24.
Also, on January 24, OESC will pay out the $300 federal compensation to the entire group.
"All of those will pay out on January 24. You are not missing out," said Zumwalt.
OESC said they are waiting for more guidance from the Department of Labor.
"If we receive something that says we are working too hard to do something and we can take a shortcut and pay people quicker, we absolutely will," said Zumwalt.
The agency is also seeing an additional assistance program for those gig workers earning $5,000 annually in that position.
"It's an extra $100 that claimants who have a traditional unemployment claim qualify for if they have an additional side gig," said Zumwalt.
OESC said claimants should continue with weekly filing.