As DWD triples staff, Assembly Republicans propose unemployment loan program

The Dept. of Workforce Development has increased staffing to handle the volume of unemployment claims.
Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 5:39 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Department of Workforce Development says an increase in staffing and expanded call center hours will aid in processing unemployment claims.

The DWD announced the staff working to answer calls, process claims, and distribute funds has grown from 500 people to over 1,700 as of Tuesday.

The call center has also expended it’s help hours from 6:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and also is available on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

GOP’s unemployment proposal

Assembly Republicans say these efforts aren’t enough. At a news conference on Wednesday afternoon, Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke called on the governor to approve a proposal that would deliver bridge-loans to those awaiting unemployment decisions.

Steineke says the program would utilize the over $280 million left from Wisconsin’s allocation of the Federal CARES act.

“We’re calling on Gov. Evers to step up and give Wisconsinites the hand up that they need,” said Rep. Steineke. “We are proposing the administration set up a zero-interest forgivable bridge loan program to help those folks.”

Republicans say many of the unemployed need money to make payments in the short term. The bridge loans would go to the 141,100 individuals still awaiting judgement from DWD.

“These are real stories. These are people losing their homes and people that can’t put food on the table and that can’t pay their bills,” said Rep. Jon Plummer.

The Department of Workforce Development says there are issues that arise in the adjudication process that can cause a delay.

"While we are required by law to determine eligibility before we pay benefits, we know the time it takes to investigate eligibility issues that hold up some claims creates incredible hardship on those people who are relying on UI to pay their bills," DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman said. "With the additional staff, we are reducing the time it takes to process verification documents, investigate issues raised by claimants and employers, and get the benefits out the door."

To apply for unemployment benefits, click HERE.

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