Wisconsin unemployment agency to start making Pandemic Unemployment payments

Posted at 11:55 AM, Mar 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-30 13:33:29-04

The Department of Workforce Development will start making payments to those waiting on federal unemployment programs, one of which was delayed since the start of the year.

The DWD estimates 17,200 people have been waiting on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) extensions created by the federal government back in December for people who normally would not qualify for unemployment insurance.

The department will start making payments on Tuesday.

PUA was extended back in December by then-President Donald Trump under the Continued Cares Act, and again this month by the American Rescue Plan Act. Delays were originally expected to last until late April.

The DWD also says it will begin making Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation payments (PEUC) on Wednesday for those who qualify for an extension under the American Rescue Plan Act, signed earlier this month.

PEUC provides additional unemployment benefits for those who exhausted their available unemployment insurance. The DWD estimates 7,400 people are eligible for extended PEUC benefits.

The department blamed the delays to roll out both programs on its outdated computer system.

Those who waited were outraged over the delays. Watch the I-Team's coverage from last month:

'It's completely ridiculous': Pandemic unemployment benefits delayed months

The department also announced Tuesday it has made its unemployment claims portal easier to use. In a news release, the department showed a streamlined version of the access portal or benefits. Among the upgrades is a messaging feature claims specialists and adjudicators can communicate and send documents to claimants.

The portal is reported to be more mobile-friendly. Many who accessed the unemployment program without broadband internet do so on their phones.

The upgrades also include what the department has called plain language to help claimants navigate the complicated laws and language of the application and certification process.

Last week, an unemployment expert told I-Team those changes were minimal. The department said it was limited on how much it could change based on its computer system and unemployment laws.

Watch the I-Team's coverage of the barriers to unemployment benefits:

The barriers to Wisconsin's unemployment benefits

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