The months-long wait for unemployment benefits: One woman shares the consequences this has had on her family

MADISON, Wis. —  It’s been almost five months since Portage resident Samantha Skaife lost her job at Kwik Trip as a full-time guest service employee. She said she applied for unemployment benefits through the Department of Workforce Development in April.

“I’ve just been stuck in limbo since.”

Skaife has five young kids to provide for and said not having an income for months on end has been a struggle.

“There’s no way families can survive like this. I don’t want to end up losing our house,” she said.

Skaife is just one of thousands still waiting for unemployment benefits to hit. According to the DWD, more than 5 million claims have been resolved since March and it still has more than 650,000 claims to sift through.

This long waiting process is taking a toll on Skaife’s family. She said she has had to make decisions she didn’t want to have to make in order to make ends meet.

“We actually had to sell one of our TVs two months ago just to make sense. We shouldn’t have to do this stuff,” she said.

Skaife said her youngest daughter is austistic and needs 24-hour care. Since her kids are all at home and Skaife doesn’t feel comfortable putting her youngest daughter in daycare, it’s made it nearly impossible for Skaife to try to look for another job.

“I told my fiance that I feel like a horrible mom,” she said. I’ve never felt worse than this.”

Skaife said her oldest son sometimes hears her crying at night, talking about her struggle to pay the bills.

“He said, ‘I see you crying all the time.’ I was like, ‘Yea it’s OK.’ He was like, ‘It’s not OK.’ And he offered to go out and get a job. He actually applied at the Dairy Queen here and Culvers and he was like, ‘I’m 14, I can work,’ and I was like, ‘No. That’s not how this works. You don’t take care of me.'”

Skaife said she doesn’t know how much longer she can afford to wait on the DWD to resolve her unemployment claim. She said she’s called numerous times and the person on the other end told her they have everything they need from her to process her claim, which left Skaife wondering, “Why am I still sitting here? I’m hoping that this makes it so something happens, that something moves forward. Because I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up.”