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State making progress on unemployment claims backlog


MADISON (WSAU)   State officials say they’re making progress in reducing a large backlog in claims for unemployment benefits. There’s been a big increase in claims that need to be reviewed by hand for various reasons. Three weeks ago, the Workforce Development agency had not reviewed 9,300 requests for jobless benefits which dated back to July – and those applicants were waiting for months to get their checks. Since then, about 1,400of the requests were handled, with the help of 15 additional part-time workers.

Spokesman John Dipko said 20 more part-timers will start next month – and they expect to make “significant progress” in reducing the backed-up caseload over the next 10 weeks. He said the July cases have been processed, and they’re now working on claims dating back to around August 20th. The backlog involves cases in which unemployment recipients were overpaid after they had under-reported their incomes – either by mistake or on purpose. Officials say those claims must be reviewed manually, and the most complicated ones can take hours to handle.

In other cases the agency has to make sure that people exhausted the state’s jobless benefits before getting federal extensions. Officials say the applicants will get all the benefits to which they’re entitled, but they’re not being paid until the processing is finished.