TLO guide to filing for Oklahoma unemployment

Hopefully if you’re reading this, you still have a job and are enjoying working from home. Your coworkers are pets, the snack selection is more personally catered to your tastes, and every day is Pantsless Friday.

If you’re like me and part of the growing 45,000 other Oklahomans who just got the boot, you may be out of work at least until the end of the month. It was my first time ever filing for unemployment, and it was not that easy of a process. Half of my Facebook feed right now are my service industry friends rageposting ‘WHY CAN’T I GET THIS TO WORK WHERE’S MY MONEY I’VE BEEN ON HOLD FOR 6 HOURS NOBODY HAS ANY ANSWERS!’

From reading other people’s comments, I’ve got a pretty good grasp on the common problems and how to solve them. Here’s my best advice to navigate the process:

File Online

Obviously, the first thing you need to do is go to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission website to file. It is so ancient that it makes the old Braum’s site look like it came from the future. The website will crash, and crash, and then you’ll walk away and come back four hours later and buddy, it’s gonna crash again. I recommend getting one of those bird toy things like Homer Simpson used and have it peck away at the F5 button cuz buddy it’s gonna take a while. Luckily, time no longer exists, so you can hop on at 3am when there’s less traffic and have better luck with the server.

Think About Your Life

You’re gonna have plenty of time in the waiting through this whole frustrating process to consider your life decisions and how exactly you wound up here. Watch some college lectures on YouTube, work on your resume, and if you wound up here not because of the pandemic but because you were working in oil and natural gas, might be a good moment to ponder joining another industry.

Get Your Money (Hopefully)

In the next couple days, if everything went right in filing, you should hopefully get a letter in the mail stating your benefits. Not an email, what year do you think we’re living in, pal? Snail mail. If you are approved, there are two ways to access your money. One is a debit card, which will come to you in the mail in about 7-10 business years. The other, faster way is to sign up for direct deposit online. Do this as soon as you get approved, and you should get funds pretty quickly. Again, hopefully.

File Every Sunday

Thought you were done with the 1992 Netscape torture device that is the OESC website? Just because you’re not working doesn’t mean you ain’t gotta work for it. They require you to make your weekly hat in hand groveling to remind them, ‘Sir, no sir, I do not have a job. Thank you, sir.’ Make sure to return to that hellhole every Sunday, try to log on while 45,000 other people are, and spend your entire day hitting refresh until either the site works, your computer monitor renders you blind, or just decide maybe it would be easier to live in a tent at Lake Thunderbird.


The entire process is baffling and not described very well on the website. Legend has it, it was originally an ancient shamanic ritual only to be understood by the wisest man in a civilization long forgotten by time. As such, much of the knowledge has been lost to time. When you get a problem, the phone number listed on the site will either be busy, or you will be subjected to a 48 hour holding period with weird porno music playing. Again, this is how they make you work for it. Send them an email instead (which is shocking that they use such a modern form of communication) and you’ll probably have better luck.

Try Prayer

I have never advocated for religion, but ya know what, now is a good time to try it out. They say god works in mysterious ways, but it can’t be any more mysterious than the byzantine inner workings of the OESC. You’ve got nothing to lose, except maybe picking one of the religions that isn’t real, but after trying going through all of the above you will be well prepared and calloused to an eternity of pain and suffering.

Well, that’s really all I’ve got, but this guide will prepare you much more than the actual state agency charged with keeping a little bit of money in your bank account. If you’ve got any more tips, shout em out in the comments!

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18 Responses

  1. I was laid off in 2015 and had to file unemployment claims for a few months. At that time, the OESC website was compatible with *Internet Explorer* only. IE had already been obsolete for a few years by that point. I had a MacBook at the time and ancient versions of IE weren’t even compatible with the Apple OS. So I couldn’t file my weekly claims from home. (Except by their automated *phone* filing system which was another beast in itself.) I had to physically go to the library every week on Sunday to file my claim on the ancient library computers that still had IE.

    I’ve been told by friends who work at OESC that their claim site is compatible with newer browsers now. But good luck and godspeed to anyone who has to navigate that shitshow of a process, especially now. I agree with the conclusion, prayer is probably the best option at this point. Just take your choice of deity / deities.

  2. I filed last week and had an error on what I believe was the last screen. I had no idea if it went through, and when I tried to call them it basically wouldn’t let me, telling me they were too busy and to call back another time.

    I’m lucky to still have a job right now, just with drastically reduced hours, so if there is an issue I won’t be destitute. But mortgage companies are pretty delusional if they think a forbearance constitutes aid at this point.

  3. “You’ve got nothing to lose, except maybe picking one of the religions that isn’t real…”

    In that case, the odds are heavily against us. None of the vast number of religious choices except one can be The Real One. But which one? The deep-water Baptists, the sprinkling Methodists, the Unitarians, Kenneth Copeland, the Hindus, the Wiccans…?

    It’s sad that filing for unemployment in our Top Ten state is such a Bottom Ten experience. But we have never been known for putting our citizens in need at the front of the line, have we? Quite the contrary.

    At least our laid-off citizens at last are eligible for Medicaid expansion.

    Oh – wait….

    1. 😂🤣😆

  4. If you think this is bad, wait until Bernie Sanders comes to town and our government starts running healthcare (that everybody seems to want).

    Wait until your kid breaks their arm in little league, and you have to wait 40 days before an orthopedic surgeon will be able to operate and set the arm.

    1. In what industrialized country does that happen, Scaremonger?

      And how long will you wait for (non-emergency) cancer treatment in the USA if you don’t have medical insurance?

    2. You do get that the fact you’re posting on an unemployment story, so these people have presumably all lost their insurance (because your insurance is tied to your job.) If the kid breaks an arm, it’ll still take 3 weeks to scheduled with the ortho surgeon, even if everything wasn’t on hold. Anybody want to guess the uninsured cost of this X-ray alone?

  5. Well folks we are doing the best we can. Yes I work for the very outdated agency. I he good news is we are upgrading our programs. The bad news is that it’ll be at least another year or two. One thing you may not know that even though we are considered state employees, we get no not one dollar from the state. We are federally funded. Now that I have defended sort of my employer of 27 years…you should, if you run into a problem, email : [email protected] to ask questions or potentially to assist you doing what you need to do.

    PUA, pandemic unemployment assistance, that is for gig workers, the self employed, etc… have to file a regular claim first online at You will get a 0 weekly benefit amount. THEN you call 405-525-1500 or 1-800-555-1554 and yes you have to be on hold next to forever. If you keep trying and be patient you will eventually get through.

    1. Thanks for the help, I know we’re snarky here but I do sincerely appreciate the support from your agency and understand that this has gotta be the craziest time to ever work there.

    2. Thanks!

    3. I actually really appreciate state workers, because I know crap is really bad right now. We’ve highlighted grocery store workers and first responders (and rightfully so), but you guys have a lot going on right now and we know you’re nor responsible for the problems caused by the state legislature making unemployment relief harder.

      So thank you for the work you do. We really do appreciate all you’re doing to help Oklahomans.

  6. Our system was designed by the PSYOPS folks at the Pentagon. It’s first aim is to make you feel guilty about being a Taker instead of a Maker so you’ll get a job, any job. The second level is to discourage you to the point you give up and go live in your Mom’s garage and if those fail then you take the job of last resort….you join the Army. Sure you’ll make more money as a private than you ever did with your two BA’s and Master. Yes you’ll have health benefits and a pension. But you have to get up every day. Early every day. And cut your hair. You’ll hate it so much that after four years you’ll get out and go to work for Best Buy. So in the end Unemployment benefits is merely a program to get you in the military…or sponging off Mom.

  7. All props to the workers doing what they can within the system but can you imagine if the government was in charge of things vastly more complicated – like healthcare ?
    Six-hour phone waits to make an appointment with your doctor or schedule a procedure would be the norm.
    Why do we think a chronically inefficient and inept system would suddenly be able to handle such a thing well?
    We’re the government and we’re here to help 🙄

    1. Capitalism has failed healthcare. The market doesn’t work there.

      The USA has by far the most expensive healthcare system on earth, but other countries’ “government” healthcare do more with less. Those countries have none of the problems you imagine.

      Think about it instead of repeating old discredited canards from 35 years ago.

    2. There are always going to be pros and cons to however a healthcare system is run, but a big, big, big part of the failure of the US healthcare system is precisely because of it’s for-profit nature and the nature of insurance companies and consolidation. We already have overwrought beauracracies and wait times in American medicine because of the role insurance companies play in the system, and a large number of medical decisions are made by people who don’t have medical degrees or work in medicine. There’s a reason our system is so far behind a lot of other companies that aren’t for-profit.

      Socialized medicine can have it’s own flaws, but we don’t see countries going from socialized medicine to non-socialized medicine.

    3. Also, I would like to point out that the system is hard to use by design, and that it gets overwhelmed because of this unique situation. They don’t want people to file for unemployment, so they make the system cumbersome and complicated and underfunded. If they wanted it to be more convenient, it could have been a long time ago But in their estimation, if they stop people who are out of work from filing for unemployment, then they can tout those numbers as economic success stories. There was a really good story about that happening in Florida under Rick Scott’s leadership and how it’s led to the system being so overwhelmed now.

      We wouldn’t have 6 hour waits to schedule a doctor’s appointment because there’s no incentive to make the system that complicated to do so, and we don’t see those kinds of waits to schedule appointments in other countries with socialized medicine. There’s really no basis to claim that that’d be the norm for scheduling doctor’s appointments if we didn’t have a for-profit medical establishment.

  8. I found that going to the web site at 2 or 3 in the morning to file a claim or file a week works great. Also no waiting for automated filing over the phone. It’s worth the effort

  9. I worked for the state and their entire database is runoff of MS DOS still. in 2015 they had just upgraded from Windows XP to Windows 7. the reason I was told was because it was too expensive to buy a new program and build a new infrastructure. and I was told the benefit of keeping the database on MS-DOS was it was an intranet and it was extremely secure. All I can say with the database is a go slow, don’t click on anything until you’re sure your answers are absolutely correct, and be very careful because it can negate your entire claim for a week if you don’t do it right.

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