Some still wait for unemployment benefits, DWD says progress being made

Some still wait for unemployment benefits
Posted at 10:48 AM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 19:54:06-04

MADISON (NBC 26) -- Leaders of the state's Department of Workforce Development said progress is being made on hundreds of thousands of unprocessed weekly unemployment insurance claims, but some people are still frustrated that their claims have not been determined.

Katlyn Ogeda has been waiting for a determination on her claim for about 12 weeks. Ogeda said she's tried to reach out to the state, the Governor, and even the President. She's not getting the answers she's looking for.

“They can’t tell me anything," Ogeda said. "They can’t tell me where my claim is at, they can’t tell me how much more I’m going to have to wait.”

Ogeda initially received benefits when she was furloughed in April. Then, she was terminated a short time later and the benefits stopped coming. Her claim is not in adjudication.

“12 weeks, that’s a long time for somebody to not have any kind of income," Ogeda said. "And to guess when I’m going to have to pay my electric bill or my phone bill or things like that, it’s frustrating.”

We asked department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman about the frustration some people have about the timeliness of these claims.

“Continue to just keep filing those weekly claims, that’s the most important thing," he said. "If folks are waiting for some time and they’re found eligible, and we’re working from oldest claims to newest claim so we’re moving that marker forward, but if you’re found eligible you’re going to be paid for all those weeks, including back pay.”

Frostman said the DWD is making progress. About 88% of the more than 6-million weekly claims have been resolved. Now, the number of incoming claims is starting to slow down, and more staff is available to process the remaining claims.

“In combination with the massive hiring we did earlier this summer, getting those folks onboard and trained, and seeing some of that claim volume decrease, we are making week to week progress on both the state and federal programs,” Frostman said.

Frostman also encouraged people waiting for their claims to use state assistance programs, such as the Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program. He said the DWD has put a lot of its traditional job services online, and the department will likely continue to hold drive-thru job fairs to help people get back to the workforce.