TINA L. SCOTT
• The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) unveiled an upgraded claims portal for applying for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits on Mar. 30, 2021. The new portal promises better functionality, secure document upload (to eliminate delays caused by previously needing to mail or fax documents), a message center for direct communication from claims specialists and adjudicators, text notifications, and a mobile friendly design. The new look and upgraded features will go live tonight.
• DWD is also rolling out another phase of its plain language project, an effort to make Wisconsin’s often-complex UI application easier to understand and navigate. This is an ongoing project, as the DWD continues its commitment to making the process as easy to understand as possible.
• Last week the DWD also started making the first payments to Wisconsinites under the federal extensions of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). The program began last spring and was extended in Dec. through the Continued Assistance Act and again on Mar. 11 under American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). An estimated 17,200 people across Wisconsin have been waiting for the new extension payments to begin. The state’s outdated UI computer system delayed implementation of the PUA extensions.
• The DWD also started making ARPA extension payments under another federal program called Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) last week. Approximately 7,400 people are estimated to qualify for additional PEUC benefit payments under the ARPA extension passed earlier in Mar. 2021.