SSDI — Waiting for the discrimination to end

Ever since Sec. Frostman issued his June 9th letter admitting that the denial of PUA benefits to the disabled did not follow the CARES Act and was also probably discriminatory, folks have been waiting for an actual change in Department policy on this issue.

Folks are waiting because Sec. Frostman did not actually change anything with this letter. Rather, he asked Sec. Scalia for the US Dep’t of Labor to OK this change in DWD policy.

Within a week of that letter, I was already hearing from my sources that the US Department of Labor would support this change soon. But, nothing happened.

And, still nothing happened.

Last week, some legislators began informing their disabled constituents that action by Sec. Scalia was imminent that same week. But, nothing happened.

Then, this week, on Tuesday evening, the Dep’t of Labor issued an Unemployment Insurance Program Letter (“UIPL”) No. 16-20, Change 2 (21 July 2020) with additional guidance on PUA benefits.

Unfortunately, this additional guidance did NOT include anything specific for those receiving SSDI benefits.

Ironically, this new guidance did indicate how corporate shareholders who are excluded from receiving regular unemployment are then eligible for PUA benefits.

Question: My state generally finds that a corporate shareholder is not “unemployed” because he or she continues to act on behalf of the company. Is a corporate shareholder eligible for PUA?

Answer: It depends. If the individual is a corporate shareholder and providing services for the corporation, the individual may be eligible for regular UC, depending on state law. If the individual performed services for the corporation and received compensation and is not eligible for regular UC, then he or she may be eligible for PUA, provided the individual is unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to one or more of the COVID-19 related reasons listed in Section 2102(a)(3)(A)(ii)(I) of the CARES Act.

Those who have been following this issue with the disabled will quickly see that this reasoning for finding corporate shareholders eligible for PUA benefits is exactly the same reasoning that should apply to SSDI recipients who are excluded from receiving regular unemployment benefits under state law.

So, corporate shareholders who have lost work because of the pandemic can start receiving PUA benefits. The disabled? Still waiting.

As of yesterday (and after this examination of the issue), the Department updated its PUA FAQ to the following:

PUA-SSDI answer as of July 23rd

So, now the Department is making the wait official.

The problem with all of this waiting is that the answer has been obvious from the start, but the Department has been in denial.

Moreover, the US Dep’t of Labor knows the right answer already as well. Do not take my word for it either. This presentation makes absolutely clear that:

Section 188 of WIA and section 188 of WIOA prohibit discrimination based on disability in programs operated, and activities provided by, recipients of WIA and WIOA Title I financial assistance, or by one-stop partners.

WIA/WIOA nondiscrimination regulations prohibit these covered entities (either directly or through contractual, licensing, or other arrangements) from using standards, procedures, criteria or administrative methods that have the purpose or effect of subjecting qualified individuals with disabilities to discrimination on the basis of disability.

See presentation at 12.

SSDI eligibility is a standard enshrined in state law in Wisconsin and North Carolina that subjects these workers with disabilities to discrimination by preventing them from receiving the unemployment benefits due them but for their disability. There is no way around this conclusion: it is in the states’ statutes.

But, for some, unknown reason, this obvious conclusion cannot be acted on. And, so the disabled continue to wait and wait and wait.

The disabled have now been waiting since March of this year. In little more than a week, five months will have lapsed and August will be here. And, too many of the disabled will be facing evictions and continued lack of work. Many are no doubt wishing they had left Wisconsin or North Carolina a long time ago, as they would not be facing this unconscionable waiting anywhere else.

17 thoughts on “SSDI — Waiting for the discrimination to end

  1. What is your take on this? What game are they trying to play? I thought you were filing a law suit? Can a law suit be filed even if we do get our money in the end? They’ve already broken the law by denying us and they need to pay for the pain and suffering we’ve had to go through.

  2. I am on ssdi and have been denied pua benefits! I may be disabled but I worked part time to supplement my income which is legal under ssdi. But now I am being denied pua in a pandemic!

  3. Why did Sec. Caleb Frostman write to the Dept of Labor seeking guidance on June 9, when this crisis began back in March. He wasted several months because he did not promptly see the issues and act accordingly. If he would have sought guidance sooner, then we may already be receiving our benefits. Many of us will be evicted, go hungry and suffer stress because of this delay.

    • Sec. Caleb should be replaced. He is not qualified for the job at DWD. He does not have a legal education which is helpful since he is trying to resolve legal issues daily. He never ran a department this size before now. The Department is failing, and he is inflicting pain among the disabled.

  4. Because, people are jealous of people on ssdi because they have to work their butts off and we dont. They figure if we’re able to work part time, we should be able to work full time. He didn’t apply for his job, because he cared about people and fairness. He didn’t want us to qualify for PUA and he looked for ways to deny us. Just like all the rest involved in this atrocity. It wasn’t until Fox 6 called him out that he pretended it was all just an innocent mistake. No one has made any follow up announcements since the “bogus” letters to Eugene, because they’re hoping people will just get tired of the run around and give up.

  5. I am very discouraged over all of this as it makes little sense to me. I’m on SSDI but I was furloughed off my p/t job in March. I was denied unemployment in March. I then applied for PUA (Not expecting a yes, just hoping against hope I can get help) in early May and haven’t heard anything since then. My application status hasn’t changed since applying. It’s beyond frustrating and discouraging. And I’m still furloughed and it’s almost August. It’s not easy for a disabled person to find p/t jobs that you can do if you are limited physically.

    I don’t even understand the reasoning for not qualifying for unemployment. I’ve never used unemployment in 25 years of work and yet have not my employers payed into the system for me everytime I’m payed? Or am I not understanding how this works correctly?

  6. This is unacceptable. So instead of answering the SSDI question outright, they answer questions about corporate shareholders? It took a month to get that answer back? While we are waiting since March for PUA? And then post it that our claims are being held on the DWD website? Another stalling tactic! We need help!!!

  7. I am on SSDI and self employed. Today I checked my status and it says “A valid unemployment claim has been established but no weeks have been claimed yet.” The weekly benefit rate is $0.00 and the effective paying program is undetermined. The benefit year is correct. There is no official decision that has been issued. I’m unable to file my weekly claims. I don’t know exactly what this indicates.

  8. Pingback: Disabled, jobless and waiting for unemployment compensation – Needy Insurance

  9. Heads up there is a fox 6 report saying a letter circulating today the 27 DOL guidance saying we qualify… Seems like it’s up to DWD to make the changes… Any other guidance???

  10. Pingback: Discrimination against the disabled continues | Wisconsin Unemployment

  11. Pingback: Proposed claim-filing changes are token measures at best | Wisconsin Unemployment

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