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DWD answers questions about unemployment backlog

Updated: 12:25 p.m. on May 8, 2020 

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- CBS 58's Brittany Lewis and Mark Stevens answer unemployment and stimulus questions in a Facebook Live. 

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Many CBS 58 viewers have reached out and shared frustrating experiences with the unemployment process. 

CBS 58 took some viewer questions to the Department of Workforce Development. Answers listed below are provided by Emily Savard, Program and Policy Analyst for the Unemployment Insurance Division at Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. 

Why are claims pending for weeks?

The staffing and getting more bodies on is the priority because when there is a claim pending, it means at some point that some sort of manual work needs to be done with it. Because we are are, we're working with federal rules and state rules and laws so if a claim is not what we call a clean claim where there are no issues, such as separations within the last 18 months or anything that would raise some sort of eligibility issue, we need to look at those and have some work done on them. 

What we're trying to do right now is simply get bodies in, we need additional staff to work on these items because at this point if somebody has filed their initial application and weekly claims and their claim is pending that means some manual work needs to be done on the claim. 

It could be anything from an issue that needs adjudication, such as if we look at the last 18 months -- all the employment relationships that had occurred if any of them, or for a reason other than layoff due to lack of work -- we need to see if the reason for the separation is one that would allow for the payment of benefits. 

When you get down to it, we are still implementing a federal and state program here and we have to follow the rules and laws that are set up with that program to make sure that people are receiving benefits due to them and employers are being charged as appropriate. So we have to do that, reach back really. 

Getting bodies in and up and running and trained in order to do that manual work that's needed is a priority right now. I know that we are working on finishing up contracting with a couple different call centers. One will be specifically to help yield those questions coming in and others will be used to actually process the work in order to get those determinations issued as needed and to get payments out the door as quickly as we can. 

Do you have a timeline on when those people may be able to start working and those centers be in operation?

I believe that the final touches are happening on some of the contracts, but I believe that they're anticipated to be up and running within the next couple of weeks. 

Why weren't claims just approved and then the research into why the claims were made is done after the payment is received when there are so many people who are now unemployed and have little money right now?

That's because the program is based on federal laws and rules and state laws and rules and we still have to follow those laws and rules and we have to make sure that somebody really is eligible for benefits according to those laws and rules before we are able to pay those benefits out. And that is one of the -- without getting too technical, rules of the program, and our hands are tied in doing that before we're able to make those payments. 

Do you think some of those rules and restrictions should have been lifted temporarily during this time? Would that be helpful for the Department of Workforce Development?

I don't know if that's possible without the federal government getting involved or the Department of Labor getting involved at a national level and saying that these things could occur. So, of course if we didn't have those things and could get payments out the door faster I think it would be easier on everybody involved, but we do have the laws and rules that we still need to follow. 

Are there steps you wish would have been taken from either DWD or from the governor's office or any state entity to help DWD get these claims processed and to help these people get their payments faster?

Since the unemployment department was tasked in administering the CARES Act from the federal government, we're really just doing what we can, but you know, it goes back to us having these very outdated systems, outdated computer programs that take a long time in order to process what we need to have processed. I truly don't know what else could have been done in hindsight without knowing the just, sheer, staggering volume items that would be dropped in our lap within a week or two's time. I really can't say, other than having a sparkly, new computer system that would not need to take all this time to update individual programs or having this money come a different way instead of through the unemployment insurance system. Other than that, I really, I can't say what would have made this easier or better, I think with the situation that we're in, I don't see any way that we, as a department, could have been ready or equipped to handle this workload. 

When will the system be updated?

Updating the system takes resources, it takes money. And all of that, because we are a government agency, typically comes from laws, taxes, grants...so at this time, we aren't able to do anything with our system other than updating each program as it's coming along. That's taking all of our resources and every time we have a new program we have to figure out what's needed in order to take those claims, get payments out the door. Those things need IT workers to actually do the manual coding of it on the back end, it needs to be tested to make sure that nothing goes drastically wrong and then it needs to go out to the public, and at this point, we're stretched to the limit with our resources just implementing these CARES act programs that have come in, so we don't have the resources to be able to do anything extra other than make this CARES program work. 

How old is the system?

Our main frame system that's the internal core workings is from the 1970's, I believe. It's based on, I think it's called COBOL coding. It's a certain type of coding language that is very old and very outdated and we've been able to update the outward facing system a bit throughout the years, but I'm not quite sure how we'd go about or the type of money it would take to update that internal portion of our computer system. But it's very old, it takes a lot of time to update, and it's rickety. 

Why have some not received back pay or waiting week payments?

I believe the only reason people would still be waiting on their waiting week payment is if they have an eligibility issue that has not been addressed yet, so that waiting week would not pay out until it's known that that week would truly be payable. 

If a claimant's valid new claim week, meaning that they started their benefit year, is prior to the week of March 15, the waiting week still applies, so that could be a situation where someone heard, 'Oh, the waiting week is going away.' They make think it applies to their case, but if they had started their benefit year before March 15, then that would not apply to them. 

Are the pending cases at the top of the to-do list?

We're just dealing with the cases as we can, ideally going from the oldest cases to the newest cases and trying to get those out the door. 

What about the $600 weekly payment from the federal government?

Those are coming out in batches so they have not all been sent out yet. We had noted that we would have them out by the end of this week. May 8 was the original target date to have all those payments taken care of. 

*The Department of Workforce Development says the payments are being sent out by social security number. 

CBS 58's Mark Stevens sat down with the Department of Workforce Development Secretary. Watch that interview here

Secretary Frostman said after a glitch with paying out the extra $600 benefit people have been waiting on for weeks, the money started flowing Wednesday night. 

Thursday, May 7, he said, "We're moving forward likely tonight, with a much larger batch and get the remainder out, Friday night's batch over the weekend."

If people still have pending cases with DWD will they still be able to get the $600 payments from the federal government?

Yes, they will. Anybody who is found eligible for unemployment benefits gets that additional $600 on top of whatever regular unemployment benefits they would receive. 

What if they haven't received any yet and their case is still pending? Will they get the payment by the end of the week or do they have to wait until their claim is approved?

They would need to wait until whatever eligibility issue or whatever issue is holding up their claim is taken care of. If benefits are approved then they would receive that $600. So it may be in the future, but they would receive back payment of those $600 for each week that they would have due to them. 

Why was the payment not the full $600?

That money is taxable so if somebody did choose to have their taxes taken out when they filed their claim, we would take those taxes out of that payment. So if they feel that those taxes should not have been taken out, that would be simply if they choose not to have federal or state taxes taken out of their unemployment, they would need to go onto their claimant portal and change that choice of having taxes taken out, taxes withheld. But we like to tell people, eventually they'll need to pay those taxes so it's either do it right away and forget about it or they may have a surprising tax bill come tax time next year. 

Why was double child support taken out of some payments?

There was a little hiccup at the end of last week with the $600 payments so one situation is that double child support was taken out. So we are aware of it and we are looking at it and working through it. 

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AsalyaKurbanova 3 days ago
If I stayed at home from the first days of quarantine and did not fill unemployment. Then can i get money for 3 months?
GayeLynn 5 days ago
I started taking off 3/17 but when I went to put my weekly claims in, they only allowed the 2nd and 3rd week of May but, I went back to work the 1st week of May!! (?)
It kept saying somewhere else on the page starting date 3/17/2020.
Ending date 3/17/21.
But now that I claimed May, that 3/17 has changed to the 2nd week of May.
I don't know how I can get paid for March and April because they never gave me the choice to put my own date in and now that it says May so why would they even think of going back and paying me for March/April?
So what am I to do when no one can help me on the phone at all because there is no way to contact anyone!
Claim May/June and then quit when the 6 weeks get paid?
And I thought this was the nicest thing to be able to get COVIOD 19 unemployment but now it looks like, well, I am, cheating.
What is a person to do??
And even tho I'm back to work, my hours have been cut so that's a whole nother game I have to play and probably lose!
(Not only do I have all of these problems, but I also sent my tax info to the IRS. Took a while to find the WI address so I re-sent them.)
GayeLynn GayeLynn 5 days ago
NOW I just checked it and they reviewed the 2nd week of May and I am NOT able to get the minimum unemployment because I don't make enough money!?!?

Does not qualify for minimum weekly benefit rate (WBR); 4% of high quarter wages too low.

I work 33 hours a week but don't qualify because I don't make enough!
I am LIVID!!!!
They're still reviewing the 3rd week of May and I didn't put down a larger sum of money so I'm just SOL!
After all of that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
:( :( :(
Well, I guess the 1 good thing is I no longer have to worry/wonder if I'll get back pay.
Alix GayeLynn 4 days ago
Have you applied for DUA? My brother made 6k since the beginning of the year and he qualified for the minimum which is 207$ a week! We even qualified and my husband is 1099 so his wages where not even reported. I did fax them in so his amount should go up. I hope this helps, good luck to you!
GayeLynn Alix 3 days ago
PUA.
I was under the impression, if you are self employed, you are eligible.
I never saw anywhere that you had to make a certain amount of money.
But, like your husband, I signed up for regular unemployment and for that I was denied.
I wonder if they are still going back to that?
On the news last night, I found the answer to MANY people's questions as to where is their money?
WI has and is using, 50 year old software!!!!!!!!!!
It's going to cost millions to update and 2-3 years so, a lot more people are SOL than I am.

I checked up in my status for the heck of it today and found I have been denied the 2nd week I applied for because of the same reason I said above.
(Does not qualify for minimum weekly benefit rate (WBR); 4% of high quarter wages too low.)
The following is the info I got when I Googled if a minimum of amount of money needs to be made to qualify and the following is what I found~

Do you have to make a certain amount to qualify for Pua?
You may be eligible for more than the minimum weekly benefit amount of $167 if your annual income for 2019 that you report on your PUA application meets a minimum threshold. You will be required to substantiate that income if requested by the EDD. If you earned at or below this amount you will remain at $167 per week.

What I understand from that explanation is, if I make MORE, I may get more.
If I don't, I get the minimum.
But as of today, I get ZERO for not making enough.
What is enough?
I don't know but when I Googled who qualifies for PUA, this is what I found~

Question 1. Who is eligible to receive PUA?
The individual was diagnosed with COVID-19
The individual has symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis
A member of the individual’s household has COVID-19
The individual is providing care to a household member with COVID-19;
A child or other person in the household for which the individual is the primary caregiver is unable to attend school or daycare due to COVID-19;
The individual is unable to reach work due to quarantine;
The individual is unable to attend work because he or she has been advised by a healthcare professional to self-quarantine
The individual is scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of COVID-19
The individual has become the breadwinner due to the death of the head of household as a result of COVID-19
The individual had to quit job as a result of COVID-19
The individual’s place of employment closed due to COVID-19
The individual is self-employed, is seeking part-time employment, does not have sufficient work history, or otherwise would not qualify for unemployment under another state unemployment program.

I fit at LEAST 2 of those above mentioned but.....I don't make enough money!!!???
I am not even allowed to appeal as follows for the description of determination~

UI Week:Week ending 05/09/2020 (UI Week 19/20)
Issue:Review of qualifying conditions
Date UI was notified of the issue:05/27/2020
Current Decision Summary:Does not qualify for minimum weekly benefit rate (WBR); 4% of high quarter wages too low
Decision Entry Date:05/28/2020
This decision cannot be appealed.

AND

UI Week:Week ending 05/09/2020 (UI Week 19/20)
Issue:Review of qualifying conditions
Date UI was notified of the issue:05/27/2020
Current Decision Summary:Does not qualify for minimum weekly benefit rate (WBR); 4% of high quarter wages too low
Decision Entry Date:05/27/2020
This decision cannot be appealed.
AdolfodeLeon 5 days ago
My job is opening up on June 4th but I still can’t get my unemployment. Do I lose all the money from my unemployment or do I still get it? Can’t get ahold of them for over 2 months now.
Alix 6 days ago
So I’m running out of hope and no one seems to have any answers for me. My husband is self employed(1099). We applied for regular unemployment on March 15th. It took 4 weeks just to get ahold of anyone from TWC(I live in San Antonio Texas). I was told after 4 WEEKS OF WAITING AND NO UPDATE ON TWC WEBSITE that we do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits and that we would fall under the PUA Program that was at the time “not ready”. and to be looking for a letter in the mail to instruct me what to do when it was ready. Another 3 weeks went by and Nothing. I called again and it took 8hrs to get someone on the phone to tell me I had been waiting for nothing and that this programs was actually ready and people were already being approved and paid out.. She applied us for DUA and it was approved within about 2 days which was GREAT but we were only approved for the minimum amount which is 207$. I was emailed to Submit my 1099 form and schedule se and c pages of my tax form which I did. We definitely qualify for more as we did make over 30k last year. Not only that we didn’t even want DUA we were wanting PUA. ok so yesterday May 25th I checked the claims and it posted to my deposit two weeks of back pay with the extra 600$ and they took out almost double for child support. We are current with payments so I’m not sure why that happend. I’ve been reading people’s comments that it’s a “glitch” and being worked on. That’s not even my concern, the money is going to my step son so that’s 100% cool. But my concern is why was I not back paid from my claim filing date which was March 15? We were really counting on that money and Sunday’s payment request was my 11th request. Yet I was only paid for the 2 weeks back. Why is this happening and am I owed the full 11 weeks? Do I need to call or am I just going to have to wait. Is it bc my initial claim was for REGULAR unemployment which was denied and my DUA was approved not even two weeks ago?(it was approved maybe 8 days ago I believe) my sister and mom where back paid in the end of April so why was I not back paid? Before I spend a full day dedicated to calling I was hoping maybe someone has some information about my kind of situation. We’ve been waiting 11 weeks and I’m trying not to panic. My sister swears they have to back pay us no matter what program we applied for. If anyone has any kind of information we’d appreciate it a bunch!
GayeLynn Alix 6 days ago
Alix~I have been searching EVERYwhere for EVERYthing you said!
I could have written the same paragraph minus the husband.
I wish there was a way I could leave you my info and visa-versa so that we could help each other.
I finally got the application done today (I stupidly missed some parts I should have previously entered) and they are paying me for the first 2 weeks of May.
My stop date for work was 3/17. (?)
Obviously, I'm further behind than you are but I don't know why I wasn't able to enter the date on my own.
I also have no idea if the first 6 weeks are retroactive.
They can't make anything easy.
This is for WI if that matters.
Hope you get some help and I'm sorry that I'm no help to you.
You just have no idea how good it felt to finally find someone else this was happening to,
(And yup, I applied for regular unemployment also cause that's the way it sounded at the time they were talking about this.) :/
Acosta 7 days ago
I filed unemployment and claimed it but it still not payable. I have not received the $600, if they approve my claim, do they give the $600 all together from the missing weeks?
Myra 11 days ago
Why haven’t some people received back pay for all the weeks they’ve waited to be approved after their case has been approved? They only received payment for the week they’ve claimed themselves.
Alix Myra 6 days ago
We applied march 15 and JUST got approved for DUA. we applied for PUA but still waiting. They only paid me back two weeks. I’ve requested payments for 11 and didn’t get the back pay either. I’m wondering if I need to call. Smh
Emanuele86 11 days ago
Ok so i live in indiana and I received unemployment for the first 3 weeks after I filed, then the back pay for the 600. After that it just stopped, saying there's an issue with my claim. I've called and emailed repeatedly and all I hear is a claims investigator will contact me. It has been 5 weeks with no call or email and I'm getting ready to start a new job, not the one I was laid off for. Will I still get the pay they owe me once it's investigated?
Heath Emanuele86 11 days ago
It's my understanding that as long as your investigation goes through and they tell you "you are eligible" they will have to back pay the weeks that they didn't pay you. But if they find out you aren't approved and you were never eligible then you technically might be asked to pay whatever $$ you weren't approved for back to them. This is just my understanding don't take it as gospel...
Heath 13 days ago
I filed for unemployment benefit 4/1 and have not received anything, not even an update as to what I can do to help get this process finished. I'm still laid off and haven't received anything for help...I'm struggling and when I call in to try and get help it's either busy or I get hung up on by the automated system! I've sent multiple emails through the DWD email page and have not received a response. I'm struggling hard and can not pay any bills currently. This is very stressful and scary to be honest especially since I've worked full time jobs for 16 years now and never accepted unemployment benefits in the past! An update on my case would be very helpful but no one will give me one...
Khill8757 13 days ago
utes ago
Keep helping others but those of us Trying to collect unemployment but can’t due to a BAR we had no clue about! 8 weeks NO
Income and no one will help in WI! The governor did in NY! Thanks Governor
Emma 15 days ago
For ones with pending claims for weeks, that are now resolved, did unemployment call you OR did you go into the system and see it was fixed without a call?

I’ve been waiting 8 weeks now, I’ve gotten no paperwork or a call!
Bumptious 15 days ago
Double child support again anyone else?
Alix Bumptious 5 days ago
I posted yesterday and woke up this morning and they finally posted our back pay after almost 3 MONTHS OF WAITING. So quick catch up... my husbands monthly payments were 174$ for CS, 50$ for child’s insurance and 75$ for the back pay. so I sent her 300$ in March Which is the month he got laid off. On April 6th they intercepted our tax refund and took what was owed which was 1258$, so that’s cool, I’m like that saves us 75$ a month now. So april I sent her 225$. Well on my husbands benefits from his back pay(we applied March 15th) it shows for March unemployment is paying her out 207$ and then April they paid her 270$ and for may they are paying her 340$. we are going to call the child support office in the am to figure out what the hell is going on. So far we have over paid 591$ For the last 3 months PLUS we have paid 525$ already for March and April. and each week it’ll keep happening. So If anyone has any information on what to do please let me know. I’m reading it’s a glitch but I just don’t understand how they didn’t see our posted payments for March and April smh. It’s already stressful we’ve waited 3 months for any income.
30 20 days ago
Who can i talk to about my unemployment being pending it’s been pending since March 15 I’ve been unemployed because of covid 19 my last day of work was March 15 I’m head of house hold I need help please. I call the unemployment number like 100 times a day and they don’t answer HELP!!!!
Kevin 30 20 days ago
Contact The Verge. I spoke with one of their reporters over the phone. They are building awareness for this issue.
(There is an advocate line for people who are having issues with their unemployment. Even with that you get the message "There is no one to take your call, please leave a voicemail" then "mailbox is full".)
Jfair 20 days ago
How are to part time for CDS at Costco as a demonstrator. I am also on SSDI. Am I eligible forUnemployment?
Ineedmoney2 21 days ago
Pending. Do I still need to file a weekly claim
Kevin 21 days ago
I was let go the end of February and received a 6 week severance. I waited until the beginning of April to apply for benefits. My claim still shows pending and I cannot get a hold of anyone. Even if I call right at 8 am the "call queues are full". Unlike some, I do not have a past employer who is waiting to call be back after they reopen. I have still been applying everyday and nothing.
Tyler 21 days ago
I applied over two months ago and haven't heard anything. No determination. Been applying weekly for 9 weeks. Nothing.
Ksvrdh 21 days ago
I filed 3/17. Am now getting the weekly $600 but have at least 4 weeks of backpay that have not been paid. They updated the totals due for those weeks and shows "Paid 4/29". I don't know who got paid but it wasn't me....
Kortney 21 days ago
I filed back in March, then all of this happened. I have a valid claim as well and everything went through...still no payments have been made to me. Im falling behind on bills trying to wait. What can I do? I call every day and can't get through.
Carmen 21 days ago
I filed at the end of march for 2 weeks because my children we sick and my employer did not allow my return to work until the 14 days were up then my clain from the end of march is still pending eligibility issues
And 4 weeks ago i worked a few hrs aside from my fulltime job for 2 weeks on a potato farm before hrs picked up at my full time job so i left there cause of no time to work there due to my fulltime job

Now just two weeks later my full time job decided to lay us off every other week to stretch out the work load
But when i filed today my fist claim is still pending and now this is pending due to no longer being able to work at the part time job from weeks prior

So yet again im still waiting 7 weeks from the first time filed
When will i know something ????
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