Empower Wisconsin | June 16, 2020
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — An Empower Wisconsin Twitter follower reports that he first filed for unemployment on March 24. On Friday, he actually made contact with a real human being at the state Department of Workforce Development’s overmatched call center.
“I was very nice and respectful and I asked, ‘This Sunday will be week #13, when will I receive benefits?’ Guess what? She hung up on me … no lie,” Michael24 tweeted.
I haven't received any money either and I filed on March 24th. Friday I called the phone line and actually got through. I was very nice and respectful and I asked, " This Sunday will be week #13 when will I receive benefits?" Guess what!? She hung up on me… no lie
— Michael24 (@Michael54782275) June 15, 2020
DWD’s dysfunctional Unemployment Insurance division may be of little help to thousands of displaced Wisconsin workers running out of money and hope, but at least there’s a place frustrated filers can go to vent.
Wisconsin Unemployment Support Group on Facebook was created in the wake of the debacle that is Gov. Tony Evers’ Workforce Development agency. After Evers locked down Wisconsin amid the pandemic in March, hundreds of thousands of so-called ’nonessential” workers were laid off. DWD was not prepared for the flood of claims it has received.
The stories of aggravation and desperation fill the Facebook page.
“They’re giving the timeline of 45-60 days from application time but it’s day 56 from app (application) date and it seems like most of us waiting on PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) still haven’t been paid. Are they trying to say that they’re gonna process all of us in 4 days?! I have been patient but I’m really starting to lose my cool at this point,” one member wrote Monday.
“(W)eek ten of no payment. it still says pending resolution. and says they are reviewing the issue. i (have) called before. they said somebody was assigned to my case but they don’t have any idea when it will be processed n completed. i’m struggling so bad a single mom of a 1.5 year old. they told me to still file for PUA. but i told her 100 times i can’t file unless my regular UI is DENIED UGH!!!” Another member shared.
One group member had a little good news to impart.
“I do have a sense of relief, my tax check decided to show up today which I thank god for … Now I’m not worried about eviction,” she wrote.
The site also offers real experience, real answers from people who have been through the ringer.
“Any idea if this means I will NOT get anything or if they are calculating how much I CAN get? By the way, I can’t figure out why they think I might be receiving disability. I have NEVER had disability. CRAZY!!!” one support group member asked.
The poster received answers within minutes.
The same with this member.
“Who’s still waiting on UI? I filed 4/2 and got sent to adjudication immediately same day. Have not had an update since, 12 weeks. I’ve gotten through on phones 4 times and haven’t been given any information other than “be patient” or “they should be working on cases from that week soon”. 🙄 Last I talked to someone (2 weeks ago) I had not been assigned an adjudicator yet. My employers and myself have sent all required info the first week of April. What on earth is going on? Obviously they are not going in order,” the member wrote.
As Wisconsin Spotlight reported Monday, and what is abundantly clear from the messages in the Unemployment Support Group Facebook page, DWD’s problems with delays and communication have not gone away despite assurances that the agency would bolster its efforts.
It doesn’t look like it’s going to improve anytime soon.
“Talked to John from the Unemployment/adjusticator and he said they are backed up to at least 30 days. So if anyone is waiting for their claims to be finished it’s going to be another few months,” one group member posted Monday.
One member said it all felt like a prison sentence.
“I feel like we’re all kinda just doing time together..like what you in for?
Who me? O pua and 11 weeks..😂😂 Just laugh with me people!!”