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Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Eligibility

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//May 27, 2024//

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Eligibility

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//May 27, 2024//

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WI Court of Appeals – District I

Case Name: Chareese D. Wilson v. Labor and Industry Review Commission

Case No.: 2023AP000210

Officials: Donald, P.J., Geenen and Colón, JJ.

Focus: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Eligibility

Wilson appealed a decision by the Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC) regarding her eligibility for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Wilson, who suffers from fibromyalgia and chronic myofascial pain syndrome and receives social security disability income (SSDI), worked as a Lyft driver until COVID-19 emergency orders halted her work in March 2020. Despite her health condition and the orders, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) denied her initial PUA claim. Wilson’s subsequent appeals were also denied, leading to a hearing where the administrative law judge (ALJ) affirmed the denial, citing lack of medical advice to quarantine and absence from work.

LIRC initially found Wilson eligible for PUA during the emergency orders but ineligible afterward, citing her decision not to return to Lyft as a non-essential worker and the lifting of quarantine orders. Wilson argued against this decision, stating that her claims were not adequately processed, and her eligibility was not properly addressed during the hearing.

The court affirmed Wilson’s eligibility for PUA during the emergency orders but reversed and remanded for further investigation into her eligibility afterward. They criticized the ALJ for not adequately exploring Wilson’s eligibility and the reasons provided in her subsequent PUA applications. Without sufficient factual development, the court found LIRC’s decision lacking credible and substantial evidence to support Wilson’s ineligibility. Therefore, they upheld the decision for weeks 13-20 of 2020 but remanded for further examination of her eligibility from week 21 onward.

Affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded.

Decided 05/21/24

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