DWD Secretary: It will be 6-8 weeks before recipients see new $300 unemployment supplement

Caleb Frostman, secretary of the state Department of Workforce Development, estimated in an interview Tuesday, Sept. 1, that it would be about six to eight weeks before tens of thousands of unemployed workers in Wisconsin start receiving a new $300 unemployment insurance supplement created by the Trump administration.

Under that estimate, payments under the Lost Wages Assistance program would likely start going out to eligible unemployment recipients in early to mid-October, at least 10 weeks after a previous $600 supplement from Congress ended on July 25 in Wisconsin.

For the majority of that time, the department will be setting up the infrastructure for the new benefit, a process known as “programming,” Frostman said.

“That means adjusting our IT mainframe system, which is about 50 years old, to accept and process the new requirements for this new Lost Wages Assistance program,” he said. “It’s going to be about four to five weeks of actual programming where our IT professionals work closely with our (unemployment insurance) staff to make sure they have all the proper understanding of the law … And then we usually spend at least … two weeks of testing to make sure that the programming performs as it’s expected.”

Gov. Tony Evers applied for the federal funds last Friday. As of Tuesday afternoon, FEMA had not approved Wisconsin’s application.

DWD communications director Ben Jedd said the agency started some work on the new program Aug. 24, and programming for the new benefit started Monday.

Unemployment insurance experts have said that there has been a wide range among states in terms of how long it has taken them to get the program up and running. Some states said they’d be able to start sending money out to recipients within weeks, while others said it could take them as long as two months.

Editor’s Note: This story will be updated.

Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard locally on 91.3 KUWS-FM and at wpr.org.

Wisconsin Public Radio, © Copyright 2020, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Educational Communications Board.

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