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For those stuck in “pending,” unemployment woes continue

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SUN PRAIRIE (WKOW) -- Even as Wisconsin begins to reopen, there are still people without work and waiting for unemployment benefits.

Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development says it received 626,697 unemployment applications from March 15 to June 6, 2020.

DWD says 72.83% of those have been paid, 11.55% have been denied, and 15.61% are currently in process.

Chris Brozek is one of those people whose claims are currently in process, and he says he's been waiting for a resolution since mid-March.

"I was just getting ready to go to a new job right when the pandemic went," he said.

Brozek is a cook and was between jobs in the middle of March. When restaurants closed, he had nowhere to go, so he tried to file for unemployment.

"And I have filed almost every Sunday for 3 months," he said. "And I have yet to receive one paycheck."

When he logs into DWD, Brozek says it says "pending" and that there is something unresolved holding everything up.

But when he's tried to call to ask what that is, he says he can't get through.

"Everything's being held up over this issue that I don't even know what it's about," Brozek said.

27 News reached out to DWD to try to get answers.

They said someone is reviewing his case, and specifically why he left his previous job.

Brozek told 27 News he quit that job right before the pandemic. He says he explained all of that in a handwritten letter he sent to DWD weeks ago.

DWD lists "quitting" as something that could lead to an unemployment eligibility issue, but Brozek's case hasn't been denied -- it's still under review.

Meanwhile, he waits -- without income.

"I've lived in Sun Prairie since I was 6 years old," he said. "I've never once went to a food pantry. I've been going there since March."

Brozek says after all this time, DWD should have figured the system out.

"They keep having excuses," he said. "It's software, not enough people, not enough hours in the day."

And as he waits, all he can do is look for jobs and stay positive.

"Me and my dad are just doing stuff together," said his son Max. "Watching movies, playing games and trying to have the best time we can during this time."

"He's my best friend," Brozek said of his son. "He's my pal."

Brozek says he's been grateful for this family and his landlord for being understanding and helping as much as they can, but he says if he goes too much longer without an answer from DWD, he could lose everything.

Andrew Merica

Reporter/Producer, 27 News

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