Sloppy ESD Communication

The Washington State Employment Security Department seems to excel not only in losing money to fraudsters, but also in the ability to withhold pertinent information to claimants. Consider this recent determination letter a claimant got. The word “decision” is used several times in the letter. Yet the claimant has no idea what the decision is.

Further, the letter states there is a “summary table” at the end of the letter. No such table exists.

Clearly, ESD has communication problems that generates confusion and more phone calls.


How ESD subverts appeals and due process

Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) is, for at least one claimaint, not forwarding appeals to the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH).

The reason, according to an ESD agent: “Your appeal requests have been received, but have not been forwarded to OAH because there is no denial to appeal”.

Are appeals restricted to “denials”? Not according to Washington Administrative Code.

WAC 192-04-020
Unless the context in this chapter clearly indicates otherwise, the following terms and phrases shall have these meanings:
(1) “Appeal” means a request for a hearing before and decision by the office of administrative hearings in a matter involving unemployment insurance benefits.

A “denial” would be considered one kind of “matter involving unemployment insurance benefits”. Other errors can also be considered a “matter”.

Appeals are the setting to sort out differences between ESD and others — claimants and employers.

In fact, appeals do happen even when there is approval (no denial) of benefits. An employer can object — through appeal — that the employee does not have a right to benefits. This is why Determination letters are also sent to employers in regular (non-pandemic) times.

The ESD reason to deny forwarding to OAH on the basis “there is no denial to appeal” is simply, bureucratic bullshit that thwarts the purpose of appeals and prevents due process.

In this case, there is no denial of benefits.

The “matter” not being forwarded to OAH are ESD’s false assertions the claimant has one or more claims out-of-state or with the Railroad Retirement Board. These false assertions were made in three separate Determination letters. The claimant has never filed for claims as asserted.

The claimant refuted the assertions and asked ESD repeatedly for information about why ESD determined the claimant had an out-of-state or railroad claim.

ESD did not respond to those requests.

The claimant wants the record to be clear there is no such claim. Further, such assertions may, in fact, reflect the possibility the claimant is the victim of identity theft in another state. If that is the case, corrective action needs to be taken.

Because ESD did not respond to requests for information, the claimant filed appeals.

ESD is, in this case, not following the Washington Administrative Code to provide due process and is not cooperating in fighting potential identify theft.


ESD Inaccuracy and Contradiction

ESD has a problem with inaccurate data and internal contradiction. The experience of an ESD claimant makes this clear.

Many other claimants have reported the same report and question described below.

This claimant has been collecting unemployment benefits through PUA as a self-employed person. PUA is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

For the week ending August 8, 2020, the claimant encountered this report and question from ESD while filing the weekly claim:

We received information that you may have an unemployment claim in another state or with the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board. Have you applied for or received unemployment benefits from another state or the U.S. Railroad Board in the last 12 months?

The claimant does not have an unemployment claim in another state or with the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board.

The “received information” comes down to two possibilities: 1) imposter fraud or 2) ESD programming error.

A few days later the claimant received a determination letter from ESD saying the claimant was eligible for benefits for the week ending August 8, 2020.

However, on the letter was a statement related to the false accusation:

“Existing claim in another state or with railroad-296xxxxx”. See the full letter.

Note this wording in the letter: “You can appeal this decision if you disagree with it. . . . You or your employer(s) can appeal in eServices, by fax, or postmarked by Sep 14, 2020.”

In eServices there is specific reference to the determination letter. On the far right is a link to “File an appeal”.

After clicking on the link to appeal, this message comes up: “You can file an appeal only for a decision that was not in your favor. This decision was in your favor, so you can’t file an appeal.”

The letter says clearly an appeal can be filed. eServices says an appeal cannot be filed. CONTRADICTION!

Fearing the possibility of being included in Michigan-style screw-up with false fraud accusations, the claimant in this example filed an appeal by USPS Priority Mail objecting to the specific reference to the out-of-state/railroad assertion and faxed the appeal.

The claimant also sent a messages through ESD’s secure message system denying any out-of-state or railroad claim and demanding to see the information ESD received. Demanding to see the information was also important because if there was imposter fraud in another state, the claimant wants to know to take the appropriate actions.

As one final action, the claimant faxed a letter to the Office of Special Investigations asking them to look into the issue of the out-of-state/railroad assertion because there may be imposter fraud behind the out-of-state/railroad reference.