Avatar
All Posts by Empower Wisconsin

DWD spins, while claimants suffer

Empower Wisconsin | Aug. 7, 2020 

By M.D. Kittle 

MADISON — The debacle that is Gov. Tony Evers’ Department of Workforce Development has been trying to do some damage control to cover up widespread incompetence in its Unemployment Insurance division.

Agency officials apparently have been telling some in the media that it has handled all but a handful of claims from March, when a flood of Wisconsinites were first forced out of work by COVID-19 and Evers’ statewide lockdown began filing for jobless benefits. 

A perusal of state legislative files and individual posts on the Wisconsin Unemployment Support Group Facebook page, however, shows DWD’s boast doesn’t hold water. Three Legislative offices alone tell Empower Wisconsin they are dealing with dozens of constituents waiting for resolution to claims filed in March.  

“I applied for UI in March, was denied in April. So I applied for PUA (federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) on April 21st. The other day I got this letter in the mail stating I’m denied PUA because I may be eligible for UI. So now I’m in the appeal process,” wrote a follower of the online support group. 

DWD is “playing games with the numbers,” one legislative aide told Empower Wisconsin. 

In one case, a West Allis man named Joseph applied for Unemployment Insurance on March 4. 

“He has had an extremely difficult time getting correct information from UI,” states a constituent assistance report from state Sen. Sen. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield). In late June, Joseph spoke with a DWD representative over the phone and was informed that he had been denied. The claimant was never notified and his dashboard did not note the fact that his claim was rejected. 

“He is growing increasingly concerned about his housing situation because he can only show his landlord his dashboard which continues to show that he has a pending claim, and he believes that his landlord will not be patient very much longer for him,” the report states. 

A New Berlin man named Reginald lost his job on March 11. He applied for UI benefits right away and has been “stuck in adjudication.” While he appears to have everything in order, he still is waiting on federal assistance, plus six months of back state Unemployment Insurance payments. 

“He is facing eviction and thankfully his landlord is giving him the chance to get the money. Sounds like next month his landlord is going to file the eviction notice. Also has young children,” legislative file notes state. 

And a single mom of 3 is on the verge of losing her apartment. She first applied for Unemployment Insurance on March 13. She heard nothing from DWD. She went back to work in May, starting out half time and eventually moving to full-time. Her case is still under review. As of Monday, she had heard nothing from the agency. 

DWD officials did not return Empower Wisconsin’s request for comment. 

Empower Wisconsin has learned the agency is spending a month or more training staff members to review claims, which may in part answer why tens of thousands of displaced Wisconsinites are still waiting for claims resolution. 

DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman has been in full spin mode of late, boasting about his agency’s accomplishments and bashing the Republican-controlled U.S.Senate for not finalizing a spending package that would extend enhanced unemployment funding. 

“We’re watching negotiations out in D.C. for any extension or replacement very closely,” Frostman said in a Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce briefing, according to Wispolitics.com. “We’ve advocated for the extension of the $600-a-week benefit, understanding that it’s temporary in nature.”

“Having up to 10 percent of the workforce living on a maximum of $370 per week is a “pretty grim prospect,” Frostman added. He did not mention that his agency’s myriad failures at one point left more than 140,000 people without any unemployment benefits, many for months. 

He’s optimistic his staff can clear the hefty backlog of claims that remain. 

“Since March, we have essentially quadrupled our UI personnel resources,” he said. 

As Wispolitics reported, DWD went from 500 people working on UI to just over 2,000 people in the last four and a half months. The department added 450 adjudicators and expanded phones from 60 in March to 800 today. 

Yet, legislative offices say they continue to hear from constituents who can’t get through to claims processors in what remains a frustrating disconnect between bureaucracy and claimant. 

Listen to more:

Explore More
Trump campaign sues Wisconsin elections officials

Trump campaign sues Wisconsin elections officials

President Trump’s campaign filed a lawsuit Tuesday in the Wisconsin Supreme Court seeking to toss out what it claims are more than 220,000 invalid ballots cast in the Badger State’s two biggest — and most liberal — counties. 

Read More »

December 2, 2020
Will Evers cost Wisconsin millions?

Will Evers cost Wisconsin millions?

As the clock winds down on 2020, Republican lawmakers are growing increasingly concerned the Evers administration will cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in lost federal funding. 

Read More »

December 2, 2020
China’s pandemic deception

China’s pandemic deception

On the menu today: sorting through CNN’s fascinating but not completely illuminating bombshell involving leaked documents from the Hubei, China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, filling in some details about the early days of the pandemic.

Read More »

December 2, 2020
‘Autonomous zone’ bar 

‘Autonomous zone’ bar 

Keith McAlarney told Tucker Carlson this week New York’s big government leaders have pushed his back against the wall with their business-killing COVID-19 mandates. It was either buck the orders or go out of business. 

Read More »

December 2, 2020
Health order fines for Thanksgiving

Health order fines for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving week came with a side of public health fines for Dane County businesses, as Public Health Madison & Dane County clamps down on public gatherings in the COVID-19 era.

Read More »

December 1, 2020
Eyewitness to Milwaukee election fraud?

Eyewitness to Milwaukee election fraud?

Milwaukee County elections officials and their liberal allies insist there was no voter fraud in the presidential election. Witnesses to the Election Day ballot count say what they saw disputes those assertions. 

Read More »

December 1, 2020

1 thought on “DWD spins, while claimants suffer

  • Innocent until proven guilty – in a crisis like this, DWD should be required to approve all claims until proof of non-eligibility is produced. Lives are being destroyed by automatic negative assumptions.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *