Evers administration plans to simplify WI unemployment claims

Gov. Tony Evers' administration plans to clarify questions on unemployment benefit applications starting this spring as it wrestles with a massive backlog of unprocessed claims resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Department of Workforce Development announced the revisions Monday evening. The department has tweaked initial and weekly claim applications to feature what it's calling "plain language" as much as possible. Department officials say the language is intended to be clear to everyone regardless of their education and cultural backgrounds and should help applicants understand questions more easily and avoid erroneous answers that might prompt investigations and delay processing.

The department is seeking public feedback on the changes. People can view a draft of the new applications on the DWD website and leave comments through Jan. 8. The department plans to begin reprogramming its systems with the new applications and hopes to begin posting them for use in March.

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The DWD has been flooded with tens of thousands of unemployment benefit claims as businesses across the state have closed or laid off employees in the face of the pandemic, resulting in a massive backlog of applications. Evers has taken criticism from Republicans for months over his administration's inability to eliminate it.

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