Many Wisconsinites still waiting for unemployment benefits

Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 3:23 PM CDT
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FALL CREEK, Wis. (WEAU) - With extra unemployment benefits expired and congress working towards another COVID-19 relief package, there are still many Americans who have not even received payments from unemployment.

“We had to make some very life changing family decisions,” says Rachel Lane of Fall Creek.

Lane, who is self employed and also has a part-time job, was looking to cash in this summer.

“I own a face paint and body art business, so that is my main summer job,” she says. “This summer was going to be my biggest summer yet, I was looking at $20 thousand to $25 thousand worth of face paint jobs.”

But after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many events she was booked for were canceled.

With lost income to make up for, she decided to file for unemployment in late March.

“I went on their initial website at the end of March and it said that if you are self employed you need to wait for the PUA program,” Lane says.

So she waited, and then in April she applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

"The PUA program opened up and I filed right away that morning," she says.

45 days later, lane called the unemployment office to find out the progress of her application.

"I called and she said, We're really backlogged but I do see it is pending so you have to wait."

Then in June she finally heard back with a result.

“Sure enough my self employment was denied, because they said I qualified for regular unemployment which I don’t qualify for,” she says.

So she went through the same process again and filed for regular unemployment.

“They said what you need to do is go back to the end of March and you need to file a weekly claim under the regular unemployment insurance,” Lane says.

Lane is not the only one still waiting, WEAU talked to several people, who did not want to be named, experiencing the same thing.

The Department of Workforce Development says it understands people are frustrated, but they are working to accommodate the record number of filings.

“If it says it is still pending, we are working on it,” says Emily Savard with DWD. “It’s not going to get thrown away or tossed out the door. It’s just us playing catch-up at this point.”

Lane found out Wednesday that her claims were denied and she would have to apply for self employed unemployment insurance, again, as she continues to wait.

“At this point I pretty much have no hope that it will ever come through,” she says.

In the meantime, her husband still has a job which is helping to pay the bills, and she hopes her part time job at a chiropractor’s office in Eau Claire will help her family get by.

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