Wisconsin residents who receive disability benefits and who had been denied additional unemployment benefits made available due to the coronavirus pandemic can now receive those payments.
The U.S. Department of Labor told the state Department of Workforce Development in a letter Monday that Pandemic Unemployment Assistance was available to people with disabilities who receive payments through Social Security Disability. That’s a reversal from the federal government’s initial interpretation of state law.
Wisconsin elected officials in Congress, Gov. Tony Evers and Department of Workforce Department Secretary Caleb Frostman had urged the federal labor department to reconsider its initial decision denying the new benefits, saying the agency was misunderstanding Wisconsin law.
Frostman had argued that because those receiving disability benefits in Wisconsin can’t also receive unemployment payments, they should not be excluded from the new federal program known as PUA. That program was created to make benefits available to the self-employed and others who don’t qualify for regular unemployment.
Frostman said in a statement that he was grateful for the change in the labor department’s interpretation of state law, which will make more people on disability payments eligible for the federal program.
Those who are eligible can receive retroactive benefits to the week ending Feb. 8 or the first week the person was out of work, whichever is later.