Wisconsin DWD clears backlog of unemployment claims

Published: Dec. 30, 2020 at 6:30 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 30, 2020 at 6:42 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development (DWD) reported Wednesday that they’re caught up on pending unemployment claims brought on by the pandemic.

That backlog includes anyone waiting more than 21 days to hear back on his or her application. Three weeks is the “timely standard” set by the United States Department of Labor (DOL).

Newly appointed Sec. Designee Amy Pechacek says the DWD hired 200 more people and extended working hours, but the agency also partnered with google to fix some of the issues caused by its 50-year-old software system, COBOL.

The DWD is currently working with Google to keep it that way. Pechacek referred to the unemployment application process having problems ‘baked-in’.

For example, the current application process requires anyone sending in a document for an unemployment insurance application must fax or mail that information in.

“It was pretty clear to me that this problem wasn’t going to be solved on people power alone, and that was when I’d heard of some of the work that Google was doing with other states to help them clear their backlogs,” Pechacek said.

Google is constructing an online portal to improve direct communication with department employees and applicants and the entire application process.

“We’re trying to get to the root of the problem,” Pechacek said. “Adding new efficiencies, simplifying the process so it’s more user friendly to the people of Wisconsin and hopefully having those tools in our toolbox will prevent this from happening again.”

To clarify what happens as employees go through these cases; the DWD removes claims from the backlog as they are processed. Any claim that’s being investigated in adjudication or has been denied are all considered to be ‘processed.’

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