Victor Forberger

Victor Forberger is a labor and employment attorney living in Wisconsin.

Victor Forberger Blogs

Latest from Victor Forberger

For those with dyslexia, my apologies. But, in 2021 Wisconsin is actually returning to what happened in 2012. That is, Gov. Evers’ 2021 budget proposal seeks to return Wisconsin to the original 2012 SSDI eligibility ban for receiving unemployment benefits. Here is the story of how disabled workers in Wisconsin continue to get the short end of the stick. The original eligibility ban, dressed up as a financial offset In November 2012, the Department introduced proposal D12-05, which stated in relevant part: 2. Create 108.05(7g) Social Security benefits. (a) If a claimant is receiving, has received, or has filed…
The Department has been announcing its new unemployment portal. The problem with this new portal is that basic functionality and information remains unchanged. All that has happened is that the Department has replaced a few menu commands with some new icons. The confusing messages about claim status, the lack of access to the legal documents that decide claim status like benefit year calculations remain, and the multiple layers and clicks to find key information and documents that might or might not be available are still present. Furthermore, there is still no instruction or guidance from the Department about how to…
Given the delays with unemployment claims in Wisconsin, eventual payment of benefits is leading to folks receiving lump sum payments of $10,000, $15,000, or even $20,000 or more. Payments that large will mean a federal and state income tax liability, IF you do not have state and federal taxes deducted automatically at the time benefits are paid — aka, tax withholding. Note: Because benefit payment levels are generally low in Wisconsin, having taxes deducted from benefit payments has usually NOT been an issue. With the supplemental funding from the $600 PUC in spring and summer of 2020 and the $300…
At the 18 March 2021 meeting of the Advisory Council, the Department began introducing its own proposals for changing unemployment law. More proposals are expected. These first proposals are appearing first because they were originally put forward during the last legislative session. The pandemic, however, meant that these proposals were never acted on. Some of these proposals are innocuous. Others combine difficult and complex issues with a less than forthright explanation. What follows are these first proposals, their 2019 versions, and an assessment of what is going on. D21-01, Creating an administrative fund Here, as in D19-09, the…
The latest rescue package signed into law on 11 March 2021 provides for: $1,400 per person direct stimulus payments for individuals earning less than $75,000 and for couples earning less than $150,000. PUA benefits extended 23 more weeks on top of the original 50 weeks (39 under CARES and 11 under Continued Assistance) for a total of 73 weeks until 6 September 2021. PEUC benefits extended 29 more weeks on top of the original 24 weeks (13 under CARES and 11 under Continued Assistance) for a total of 53 weeks until 6 September 2021. The additional $300 PUC per week…
With the pandemic coming up on a year, many folks are seeing notices on their portal about needing to file a new initial claim because they have a new benefit year. The notice looks something like the following: Your current benefit year has ended with the week you just filed a weekly claim for. If you want to receive benefits for the week ending 03/20/21 you must file an initial claim application to start a new benefit year. To file an initial claim click on the “File Initial Claim” button. If you do not need to file for the week…
Previous posts detailed the length of time and number of cases in the unemployment backlog in part 1, some of the mistakes by the Department that allow cases to be re-opened in part 2, a place for stories and advice about how to find assistance in part 3, how most claims in Wisconsin — and unlike in other states — are being denied and thereby creating a ginormous backlog in hearings in part 4, and in part 5 how the Department’s big push to fix the backlog in December 2020 was creating a hearings backlog and…
A lengthy primer on the unemployment claim-filing process is now available. Anyone filing an unemployment claim in Wisconsin MUST read this primer. It covers: initial claims weekly claims or weekly certifications monetary eligibility — aka, your benefit year calculation non-monetary eligibility — initial determinations relating to a job separation, not being able and available, failing to satisfy a Department job search requirement, or failing to satisfy some other Department claim-filing requirement Partial eligibility — reporting on your weekly certifications your part-time work while collecting unemployment benefits unemployment fraud/concealment benefit over-payments, offsets, and collections: how to object or appeal unemployment hearings…
Beginning February 2021, there is additional rental assistance (WERA) for those who are facing eviction or are behind in their rent payments. Here is a link to the state Department of Administration website with contact information for each county. (https://doa.wi.gov/Pages/WERA.aspx). Under the “Want to Apply?” section, click on the highlighted box that says “Your Local Community Action Agency,” which will take you to the WERA page. In Dane County, these applications are being handled by the Tenant Resource Center. Here are income limits for Dane County, which will vary somewhat for other counties: 1 Person: $35,050 2 People:…
In part 1, I described how difficult it is for disabled folks to gain access to the Department’s claim-filing and how the Department’s rules absolve the Department of responsibility for providing effective access. In part 2, I described how the Department does NOT meet federal requirements for providing claim-filing access to disabled workers. Here, I describe how the Department fails to meet federal requirements for providing claim-filing access to non-English speakers. These federal requirements are again spelled out in in UIPL 2-16 (1 Oct. 2015) and UIPL 2-16 Change 1 (11 May 2020). Claim-filing access for those who…
In a surprise session on February 17th, the Joint Finance Committee met to discuss unemployment proposals to take advantage of some federal dollars from the Continuing Assistance Act and the Department’s effort to fund a new mainframe computer system. The substitute amendment that was passed unanimously (?!) will: start the process for a request for proposals (RFP) for the new computing system (but does not provide any actual funding), extend the waiting week waiver to 14 March 2021, expand the waiver of benefit charging for employers for separations to separations occurring from 15 March 2020 thru 13 March 2021 and…
In part 1, I described how difficult it is for disabled folks to gain access to the Department’s claim-filing and how the Department’s rules absolve the Department of responsibility for providing effective access. Here is the Department’s statement about a lack of accommodations when confronted with some of these problems — namely that a hard-of-hearing person who reads lips could not call and ask for assistance, that there is only one way to file claims (on-line), and that the phone number to call for assistance is inadequate for far too many claimants with disabilities — and responses that compare…
The Department’s illegal questions of disabled workers over their able and available status and the Department’s general hostility towards disabled workers have already been documented. But, what exactly are the Department’s obligations towards making the claims-filing process accessible to disabled folk? TMJ4 looked at this issue a few weeks ago and found that those with visual or hearing impairments are seemingly out-of-luck when trying to file an unemployment claim. As Wisconsin currently only has one formal mechanism for filing unemployment claims — the on-line system — an administrative rule provides the relevant standard for when a disability of some kind…
It has taken almost a year, but there is now a decision from the Labor and Industry Review Commission about being able and available during the pandemic. This case involves a part-time tour guide for the Capitol. When the pandemic struck, the Capitol building was closed to the public, those tours stopped, and she was laid off. She applied for unemployment and, when contacted by the Department, explained that, as a 75-year-old woman with underlying health conditions she was concerned about working in a safe environment in the midst of the pandemic. The Department subsequently denied her claim, asserting that…
Work searches in Wisconsin — a statutory requirement per Wis. Stat. § 108.04(2)(a)3 — were initially waived per Gov. Evers’ emergency order #7 and then emergency rule 2006. This emergency rule was renewed twice and so slated to expire on 2 February 2021 if a new emergency rule was not enacted. With no subsequent emergency rule, the waiver of the four job searches a week is now over. Claimants wanting to receive regular unemployment benefits, PUA benefits, or PEUC benefits now need to do four job searches a week with each weekly certification. Even if you cannot do a…
Update (3 Feb. 2021): Thankfully, the Department has announced through a FAQ that work searches will continue to be waived through another emergency rule. I will have details when they emerge. For now: Work Search FAQ I heard the work search is no longer waived as of February 7, 2021. Is that true?No. The work search requirement will continue to be waived at this time. We will update you when that changes. DWD has submitted certification of a new Emergency Rule to the Legislative Reference Bureau addressing this issue that will be effective beginning next week. This new emergency rule…