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Cyber attack delays paid leave benefits for thousands in DC

Though the system is still down, money is on the way for more than 1200 people.

WASHINGTON — A nationwide cyber-attack caused delays in payment for thousands of people who live and work in the District.  DC’s family leave benefit system offers six weeks of pay for medical care - eight weeks for care of a newborn. 

Lauren Smith lives and works in D.C. She’s been home on maternity leave with her 11-week-old son Sage since April. Her husband, Max, will soon take paternity leave to enjoy precious time with their firstborn they’ll never get again.  But they have another reason behind their sleepless nights lately.

“I received an email last week saying that ‘if you're expecting a payment on June 28, you won't be receiving it,’ she explained, “or it will be delayed.” 

Smith’s check was caught up in a cyber-attack. The Department of Employment Services said the Florida-based vendor, Geographic Solutions, that operates the DC Paid Family Leave site was hacked - the ransomware attack affected over 30 state workforces around the country. DOES notified folks of the system outage and said weekly payments for paid leave will not be processed. Officials posted an apology on its website and said the hack does not impact people's private information.

“I'm planning on taking a month of unpaid leave. So, like four months total, but I might not be able to do that because we're counting on this income. So, I might go back [to work] sooner, which is something I really don’t want to do yet,” said Smith.

Now, some relief for Lauren Smith and the more than a thousand other people who were waiting on benefits. DOES told WUSA9 that even though the website is still down, the agency issued $1.7 million dollars in back pay to 1,288 claimants. 

Smith and others should see those checks in their accounts in the next 24 to 48 hours. According to DOES, there are no claimants due outstanding benefits; the next regularly scheduled payment day is Tuesday, July 12.

As for those still waiting to file for benefits soon, they may experience a delay. DOES suggests they continue monitoring the website for updates telling us in a statement, “We are working with the vendor on a solution to securely restore our system and issue payments to those impacted as soon as possible.”

RELATED: 'It seemed as though my child never existed' | DCPS teacher says she was denied paid family leave after delivering stillborn baby

RELATED: DC mayor lets 8-week paid family leave bill take effect

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