Hundreds Of Oklahomans Denied State's Return To Work Incentive

Thursday, July 29th 2021, 5:40 pm
By: Anjelicia Bruton

Hundreds of Oklahomans applying for the state's back to work incentive are being denied.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission said they are still processing thousands of applications for the $1,200 checks, but they've noticed many people applying for it are not eligible.

Tink McGathy said he was let go from his job at the start of the pandemic.

After months of searching, he started a new job in May.

When he heard about the state's back to work initiative, he decided to apply. Despite having an active claim and several emails to OESC later, McGathy said his application was denied.

“I earned too much money during that week of May 3 to May 7 that they basically said that my back to work initiative, I didn't reach the requirements,” McGathy said.

McGathy said he understands there are rules, but being denied makes him feel like he's getting the short end of the stick.

“It's part of the requirement for your unemployment benefit that you're actively looking for a job. Because I was actively doing that, I missed the requirement. People who waited and weren't looking for a job, their benefits are going to end. Now that they know their benefits are going to end, now they're going out and trying to find a job and they're going to reward those people,” McGathy said.

McGathy is just one of hundreds of applicants to get denied. OESC said they've had around 25,000 applications filed and only about 2,100 have been approved.

Shelly Zumwalt, OESC director, said she expects approvals to ramp up next month.

“We have a lot of people that stayed on benefits until June 26, and the time period to be eligible for those six consecutive weeks will come right around mid-August,” Zumwalt said.

Zumwalt said OESC has also noticed some folks may have made a mistake on their application. In those cases, she said they are reaching out to those applicants to reapply.