The Washington State Employment Security Department has launched Operation 100%, an initiative designed to get benefits to Washingtonians who are eligible for Unemployment Insurance. Since unemployment claims jumped to record numbers in mid-March, the ESD has paid out more than $2 billion in benefits to more than half a million Washingtonians.

Some, however, are still waiting for help.

“While we at ESD are incredibly proud to be a part of this critical effort and to have paid benefits to two thirds of applicants, we know we still have a lot more to do,” said Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine in a statement released Monday. “The Unemployment Insurance program is designed to detect and protect against fraud while we determine every claimant’s eligibility. This system usually works well. Yet, the size and scale of the crisis has impacted the timeliness of the adjudication process. Roughly 57,000 individuals, or 7 percent of applicants, have been waiting — some for many weeks — for their claim to be processed because it has been flagged with an issue requiring resolution before we can release a payment.”

To help those waiting access the relief they need, Operation 100% will focus on rapidly hiring ESD staff members who can help customers with their claims and using technology to resolve issues and free up payments. For one week starting May 13, ESD also will modify its phone hours — increasing outbound claim resolution calls and limiting inbound calls — to better resolve backlogged cases and address problems for those who can only apply by phone due to lack of internet access or need of a translator.

“The aim is to make significant headway on the 57,000 claims in adjudication within two weeks and have 100 percent of them resolved or paid by mid-June,” LeVine said. “Applicants should know that the money won’t run out and benefits will be paid retroactively to their date of eligibility — even if they go back to work.”

For more information about Operation 100%, visit this website.