These posts — hundreds of thousands still waiting to be paid benefits and about legal obstacles being waived because of Department mishandling of claims — have led folks to contact me about their own stories of delay.
These stories need to be consolidated in one place. Why not right here with this post?
So, if you have a story about a delay, please add it to the comments below. Update your story, if possible. You can include any personal details you want or leave your story anonymously. While wordpress requires you to include an e-mail address when posting a comment, only I will know about that e-mail address. And, frankly, I do not have the time to follow-up with you directly about your story. So, I will not be sharing your information with anyone.
Note: Despite the urge, please refrain from profanity or personal attacks against identifiable people. And, do try to include paragraph breaks so that your story is easier to read.
To kick off these stories, here is one I received last night from an attorney:
I helped my stepson apply in April. He has yet to see a dime. They’re waiting on adjudication on a job that he had for a couple months that he quit to take a better job.
I called two days ago and talked to someone who was utterly clueless. She was only able to tell me that the holdup is because the employer isn’t responding. I said well then make a determination based on the information you have! This is being held up for five months now because the employer didn’t respond.
She said the law requires them to send a certain number of letters out to the employer before they can make a decision without employer’s statement. She said that they’re too busy to send out all those letters. She said they’re working as fast as they can blah blah blah. She didn’t even know what a weekly certification was or where we go in the portal to change his address. It’s ridiculous! His claim is held up because of an issue that would clearly qualify him.
But [that issue] doesn’t matter because he lost his job before that due to misconduct (absenteeism). He was only at his most recent job for 2 or 3 weeks before they closed due to covid. So, he’s not going to qualify for regular UI and will qualify for PUA. However they still haven’t made decisions on his regular UI after five months!
[To get by financially, he] did do a few weeks covid testing with the national guard and is now working through a temp agency, but when he was unemployed and had no income my wife and I were supporting him which we cannot afford to do either. Like we are all hurting badly, and there are even more people out there who don’t have family to help them out.
Even if you have already posted your story in the comments on this blog, I urge you again to include your story here on this post. In this way, there will be a central location for all of these stories about the delays Wisconsin has wrought.
Update (21 Sept. 2020): Updated post title with “your stories here.”
Update (19 Oct. 2020): Fox6 has a great story from Department insiders themselves complaining about the delays: “Since the spring, DWD has hired hundreds of additional employees to help process unemployment claims. But claims specialists say the system itself has not fundamentally changed, allowing the backlog to continue.”
And, here is some tips and places for assistance for those losing hope right now.
There is something else to say about these delays. Several comments on this blog over the past few weeks are comments of despair, no hope, and even thoughts of suicide. I know finances can be a mess after months and months of no income. As a kid, I moved three times in one six month period. At times, I have struggled for work as an adult, and I have made some terrible career choices at other points in my life.
But, life is always more than your finances. Despite all the pain of the moment, please keep the folks you love in mind right now. They matter. And, they will want you around after all of this current catastrophe has passed.
- For help with your unemployment issue, contact your state representative or senator (use this link to find out who your state representative is).
- IMPORTANT: If you have unpaid food, housing, or medical bills, tell the representative that and ask that your claim be expedited because of that financial emergency. Provide an initial determination number or hearing number if you have one. Do not talk about weeks at issue (that is the substance; before you can talk substance you need to explain the procedural status of your case).
- You will also probably need to provide a social security number (last four digits at least), birth date, phone number, e-mail address, and your mailing address to your state representative.
- Do NOT provide screen shots or discuss issues with the on-line portal (short answer: everything in the portal is pending until resolved; see this post for help with navigating the portal). Just tell the representative the problem you are having: I’m being denied benefits because DWD is looking into why I was laid off, why I quit a job in 2019, why I answered no on question X on my weekly claim, why I had just less work because of the pandemic and did not lose all work, etc. In most cases, there will be NO factual explanation for why your case is on hold or being denied because the Department itself has made a mistake in processing your claim.
- If you do not know what the issue is holding up your claim, call either the regular unemployment assistance line at 414-435-7069 or 844-910-3661 or the PUA assistance line at 608-318-7100, depending on whether you have a regular unemployment or a PUA unemployment claim. You can get more information from these folks than from your portal. If there is nothing new, then there probably is nothing new. Claims and hearings processing are gummed up mightily, and all kinds of problems are popping up and leading to further delays.
- Wait 4-5 days and then follow-up with the legislator about the status of your request to have your case expedited.
- While waiting, call 211, the United Way help line for your county and ask about the emergency help you need.
- If close to Madison, here is a link to programs that provide emergency financial assistance in small amounts (usually $25-$100) and housing help.
- Finally, think about what happened in the past when government likewise tried to pretend economic problems and dire need did not exist.
Update (21 Oct. 2020): Fixed some of the formatting for the Oct. 19th update. Also, the Fox6 open record podcast has an episode on the unemployment chaos in the state that deserves a listen.
Update (2 Dec. 2020): Courtesy of Hawks Quindel and others, here are some additional resources:
Update (4 Dec. 2020): added Wisconsin Judicare.
Update (29 Jan. 2021): clarified the above advice about getting help from state legislators.
Update (6 Aug. 2021): why you should get vaccinated.
- Wisconsin Dep’t of Health Services ACCESS: On-line application for Wisconsin benefits and programs relating to Medicaid (and BadgerCare) coverage, paying for groceries (SNAP) and child care, and other issues. There is an application guide is available in English, Spanish, and numerous other languages at the ACCESS link.
- St Vincent de Paul (find the location nearest to you): Food pantry, charitable pharmacy, clothing, furniture, bedding and household goods, housing programs, and storage programs.
- Contact your local county Dep’t of Human Services for numerous support services for older adults, health care options, after school programs, support for disabled individuals, transportation assistance, and numerous other kinds of support.
- Update (3 Feb. 2021): Finding AA meetings in Wisconsin
- Update (10 March 2021): Rental Assistance Program beginning February 2021. Go to the Wisconsin Community Action Program Association website and then click on your county on the map to take advantage of this rental assistance program.
Dane County and Madison
- Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin: Clothing center, community gardens, financial assistance, housing case management and assistance, Koats for Kids, serving area food pantries, gleaners perishable food recovery program, and FoodShare at the Farmers’ Market. Active in Jefferson and Waukesha counties as well.
- Community Justice, Inc.: Non-profit law firm in which legal fees are proportional to your income. The legal services include family law, restraining orders, housing, including landlord/tenant issues, mental health, employment, discrimination, consumer fraud & scams, criminal, personal bankruptcy, SSDI, basic estate planning, defense litigation of personal injury, property damage, and consumer cases, small claims cases, insurance disputes.
- Freedom Inc.: Numerous youth support programs as well as support programs for Hmong and Black adults and elders.
- Homeless Services Consortium of Dane County: Housing Resource Line, coordinated intake, housing resource desk, family shelter (Salvation Army), single women’s shelter (Salvation Army), single men’s shelter (Porchlight), domestic abuse helpline (DAIS), and Youth Services Crisis Hotline (Briarpatch).
- Neighborhood Law Clinic: UW Madison law school clinic where law students provide a broad range of legal services in rental housing, employment, and public benefits law.
North Central Wisconsin
- WRAP-Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program: Rent and security deposit payments up to $3,000 are available.
- Wisconsin Judicare: represents low income individuals for no fee in: unemployment appeals, evictions, foreclosures, some tax issues, and who are victims of domestic violence and elder abuse in the 33 northern counties and 11 federally recognized tribes.