Victor Forberger

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

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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, and a place for stories and advice about how to find assistance in part 3. Jake explains in posts on Nov. 14th and Nov. 19th that: job losses are now spiking both nationally and state-wide, the ensuing loss of PUA benefits at the end of 2020 is a fiscal cliff for millions, and continuing claims demonstrate that long-term job losses are becoming entrenched.…
There is already a heart-wending report about unemployment problems described at this public hearing. Note: The news article, however, continues to report the Department’s weekly claims data — 74,000 claimants — as the number of still outstanding claims. As many of the people who testified at the public hearing, those waiting includes those waiting for a hearing, which is a three to five month process right now (and getting longer). So, the actual number should be those who are waiting for a payment period. And, that number is at best 150,000 to 200,000. Given that many of the issues have…
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits are the creation of the CARES Act and completely federally funded. Their purpose is to get unemployment benefits to groups of workers who are not eligible for regular unemployment for various reasons. Note: for an explanation of all the different kinds of unemployment benefits connected to this pandemic, see this lengthy table. Numerous attorneys and claimants are reporting that the Department is denying most PUA benefit claims. And, the claims-filing data backs up that observation. ST Initial Appl'ns First Paym'ts % Paid WI 112,114 35,889 32.01% NC 332,287 211,528 63.66% MN 110,781 98,217…
The last public hearing in 2018 was a tepid affair, and the 2016 public hearing led to an avalanche of testimony about winter work search waivers but no changes in unemployment whatsoever. So, a public hearing in the midst of this pandemic is nothing to be excited about. In light of the pandemic, this hearing is split across two days and takes place via webex, a difficult on-line conferencing tool that is great in corporate environments but a pain to use across numerous platforms and technologies, especially where broadband access is limited. Here, for example, is the help Department offers
Do you want to know the questions you will be asked when filing an unemployment claim in Wisconsin? Unfortunately, Wisconsin does NOT provide those question beforehand to claimants. Wisconsin does NOT even any longer provide those questions in the Handbook for Claimants. Compare this 2010 handbook with the current version. Other states do provide these questions to claimants. They even explain how to answer these questions. For example: Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, and PUA claim in New York. In Massachusetts, you can even go through the claim-filing process for PUA benefits without a user-id…
Other states with easier to use claim-filing processes have been hit hard by identity theft issues. Wisconsin has not seen a comparable surge in such cases. But, the problem is still happening here to some extent, and a Fox6 report indicates that it can be near impossible to fix once it happens. Fischer filed for unemployment insurance online, as the state encourages. As a result, her banking information was in her unemployment portal. She says investigators told her the “unknown imposter or imposters” changed her banking information several times so the money would go to them. When Fischer first reached…
Not much to say about the reporting by the Verge on the disaster that is FoxConn in Wisconsin. The picture presented in this article is of vaporware: no actual product plans were ever in place for anything in Wisconsin and the company has struggled since to come up with something. Still, I do wish I could have raced some of those golf carts around the empty warehouse. That sounded fun. The sad news is that politics continues to divide on reality. Empty buildings, nothing being manufactured, and an utter failure to even hire a minimum of 520 jobs (when the…
Tags , Dedoimedo has an excellent commentary of the state of the Linux desktop. He notes that usability has plateaued in many ways. I agree. The basic functionality and speed I had with Xubuntu 14.04 (Trusty Tahr) was stellar. Now running Xubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa) on both newer and faster desktop and laptop computers, I have had problems with graphics cards, samba networking is a bust that I work around, and connecting my iPhone for file transfers is hit or miss. Yes, the world is not standing still. Linux systems like Xubuntu are actually undergoing massive changes through
The pandemic rages on, and unemployment remains an economic lifeblood for hundreds of thousands in Wisconsin. Yet, unemployment has also been a dangerous option for some time now, because the Department considers any claim-filing mistake to be fraudulent. When a mistake is discovered, the Department presumes the mistake was intentional, and the claimant must then explain why that mistake was actually not intentional and just an accident. The Department considers any apology for a mistake, an admission that you lacked awareness or knowledge of the unemployment issue, or a failure to look up the relevant information in the claimant handbook…
Much has been made during this pandemic about how woeful the computer systems in Wisconsin are for handling unemployment claims. The Century Foundation has released an extensive report on October 5th about the efforts to modernization unemployment systems. This report is timely because, first, unemployment has become a major part of the economic response to the pandemic. After all, 695,000 new claims in October 1982 was the previous highest number of initial claims filed in a week. With the pandemic, new claims exceeded 6.6 million for two weeks in a row and have been more than 2 million every…
After logging in to your web portal for unemployment benefits at https://my.unemployment.wisconsin.gov/, here are some helpful guides about how to navigate this portal and find relevant information. Viewing initial determinations Unemployment issues are at first decided via initial determinations, so these documents are what you need to read carefully when they are issued (as noted already, delays in processing unemployment claims are monumental right now, so do not expect these initial determinations to be issued soon after filing your unemployment claim). To see the initial determinations connected to your claim, do NOT click on the View ALL…
An audit of the unemployment phone system for Wisconsin revealed last week that from March 15th through June 30th — 3.5 months — only 0.5% of the calls to the help system managed to get through. Not until the two additional phone call centers were up and running and the number of calls fell to 55,698 during the week ending 8/22/20 were there finally no calls blocked. Much of the criticism concerning this collapse of the phone system has centered on the legal changes enacted by Republicans under Gov. Walker. See here and here. Yes, the whole point of…
In 1932, WW1 veterans marched on Washington over a bonus promised them at a later date but needed now in the throes of the Great Depression. Congress refused to pay this bonus because of concerns over budget shortages and creating a moral hazard through this “free” money. Documentary done with original footage A quick history lesson For a full history of the bonus army protest, see this documentary in four parts. Please watch all four parts (around 30 minutes). Technically, the bonus army protest predates the creation of unemployment benefits. But, the idea of what the bonus army wanted…
Jake has the details on the economic effect all of the additional unemployment and tax payments that came out of the CARES Act and other legislation. Of mid-western states, Wisconsin lagged behind its neighbors of Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa (and the national average was 34.2%). Either Wisconsin has been less damaged by the pandemic than other states, or Wisconsin has been less successful than other states in paying out all of the pandemic-related unemployment benefits currently available. I am thinking the latter. Of course, income was still up in the second quarter of 2020 despite the pandemic because…
Just one example of where the Department ignores the unemployment law it is supposed to be following. Numerous SSDI recipients are being denied PUA benefits because they are not answering a question the way the Department wants that question answered. The question: Before this question and guidance is examined, let us first examine what the actual legal requirements for full-time work (aka being able and available) are for the purpose of unemployment benefits. Department regulations define being able and available as: (3) Able to work. (a) Able to work means that the claimant maintains an attachment to the labor market…
These posts — hundreds of thousands still waiting to be paid benefits and about legal obstacles being waived because of Department mishandling of claims — have led folks to contact me about their own stories of delay. Note: The comments on numerous posts on this blog already contain dozens of stories about delays with claims. See here, here, here, and here, for example. These stories need to be consolidated in one place. Why not right here with this post? So, if you have a story about a delay, please add it to the comments below. Update…