Audit: Wisconsin DWD had information to clear pending unemployment claims

Milwaukee unemployment rate hits new record low
Posted at 1:43 PM, Dec 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-14 19:35:59-05

An audit released Monday shows that the Department of Workforce Development sent 77 percent of unemployment applicants into pending status to be adjudicated, despite having the information on hand to process those claims.

The Legislative Audit Bureau shows that from March to October, 514,026 of the 662,731 unemployment applicants were put into adjudication, so the department could determine if they were eligible for benefits.

Some people were in adjudication for 75 days or more and were only paid because the department failed to act, according to the audit. More than 96,000 applicants were still in adjudication at the time of the audit.

In 90 percent of those cases, the department either had the information to process the claim but failed to do so, or they did not request the proper information from either the applicant or their former employer.

The audit notes the department increased the number of adjudicators from 175 to 563 by September.

But the I-Team found in August the department also spent millions contracting 667 additional call center employees, out-hiring adjudicators by 34 percent.

One note of hope, the audit notes that the department is processing claims much faster. In March the average claim took nearly 40 days to process. By the end of August, it was processed on an average of eight and a half days.

The audit recommends the department take its findings and find a faster way to process claims. It's requesting a status update from the department by January 15.

The DWD did not immediately respond for comment.

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