'Enormous strains:' Wisconsin unemployment wait continues for some

Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday, Sept. 15 said the state is still working to process thousands of unemployment claims in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For some, they simply cannot wait for help any longer.

"I applied back in April and I kept calling every week at least once a week," said Rio Pospiech, a single mother who is seeking unemployment.

Pospiech said she was denied unemployment compensation before she had a chance to upload all of her paperwork to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD).

"I told them everything going on -- I had doctors notes and everything -- but I was still denied my unemployment for not having a specific reason for leaving," Pospiech said.

Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) unemployment website

While she is waiting to hear the status of her appeal, Pospiehc lost her car -- making it even more difficult to look for work while she cares for her son. Pospiech believes he had COVID-19 in April.

"He had an upper respiratory infection, like a viral infection. He luckily came through and he's OK," said Pospiech. "But because of that, and me not knowing what it could have been, it could have been the worst, I had to leave my job."

One place that is hiring: the DWD. The department is hiring entry-level adjudicators.

"COVID-19 has put historically enormous strains on our system," said Gov. Evers. "We have to do better in this arena. We continue to add staff and we will continue to add staff until the point when we can cover making sure that people...they get what they deserve."

Governor Tony Evers

Gov. Evers said there are not enough trained employees to handle a historic unemployment workload that came with COVID-19. More than 700,000 claims still need processing.

"If there are issues about previous employment, that has to be checked out by law. We have to continue to do that," Gov. Evers said. "Sometimes that takes time, especially if former employers are nowhere to be found.

"But those are all excuses. The bottom line is we should be getting this money out as soon as possible."

As far as excuses, Pospiech said she has heard many from the DWD.

"Who do I talk to as somebody applying for it? Who do I get a hold of to get more answers and to get the money that I'm owed," Pospiech said.

FOX6 News reached out to the DWD for comment but has not heard back.