Wisconsin Unemployment

Simply put, when a state pays out money to those who have lost their jobs, this is known as unemployment compensation. Generally, the state doesn't pay this out to just anybody who has voluntarily left their job; the amount provided by the states is calculated using a number of formulas for a predetermined period of time for those who continue to actively seek work.

In order to pay for this compensation, companies must pay unemployment taxes based on the industry they are based in and how much money they pay out to their employees.

Eligibility Requirements

As previously stated, the state doesn't just give out money to anybody; there are some rules for eligibility. Those who only meet the rules partially may still wish to apply for unemployment as the state of Wisconsin will still attempt to process your claim so long as you look like you have a reason for filing.

Viable reasons include:

  • Having lost a job without any of his or her own;
  • Must either be partially or completely unemployed;
  • Must have had enough earned wages in order to make a claim during the base period;
  • Must be available and able to work as well as seeking work; and
  • Must fill out these requirements when filing every week

Find Out If You Are Eligible For Unemployment   Click this link to find out: Am I Eligible To Collect Unemployment Benefits?

Have Your Benefits Run Out?   Click this link to find out how to get an unemployment extension: Unemployment Extension

The base period refers to the four consecutive calender years within the 18 month period prior to starting a new benefit year.

The four quarters are:

  1. January 1 - March 31
  2. April 1 - June 30
  3. July 1 - September 30
  4. October 1 - December 31
For more information, go to:http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/handbook/english/contentspart6.htm

How Much Will You Get

The maximum benefit amount is how much in unemployment benefits the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development could pay out during a benefit year. This is either 40 percent the total wages earned during a base period from all covered employment or 26 times the WBR, whichever one is the lesser amount.

Consider the maximum benefit amount as a checkbook or checking account. Every time you receive money from the state, take out what you are paid to know how much more you will receive for the benefit year.

For more information, go to:http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/computing_benefit_entitlement.htm

Base Period

The first four calendar quarters of the previous five prior to filing an initial claim application is the base period. The amount of money you earn within this period of time will determine exactly whether or not you have made enough in order to qualify for a claim, and this number will also be used to help determine how much you should receive in unemployment benefits.

If you lack the wages necessary to qualify within this base period, then the state will use an alternate period in its stead. This period are the four recent quarters prior to the week before filing a claim for a new benefit year.

The lag period is the amount of time between the end of the base period and when you start your claims. The Wisconsin DWD does not use this period of time to figure out how many benefits you are entitled to, though you can use them later on for future claims if necessary.

For more information, go to:http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/computing_benefit_entitlement.htm

What If You Quit Your Job or Get Fired?

Even if you earned enough wages to qualify, some issues can disqualify you from receiving benefits:

  • Quitting without a good reason. The law of unemployment insurance stops your benefits for four weeks and until you have worked to earn four times your WBR.
  • Fired for behavior. Under the law of unemployment insurance, the employer's wages from the base period are deducted from the MBA while suspending your payments for seven weeks and until you have worked to earn 14 times your WBR.
  • Fired for absenteeism. The law suspends benefits until you have worked to earn 6 times the WBR and for six weeks.

Quitting your job or getting fired raises an issue of eligibility, which is any set of circumstances that raises questions about the legality behind your eligibility for unemployment benefits. Depending on the nature of the circumstance, you can have your benefits suspended, reduced or denied under law. The Department of Workforce Development will thoroughly investigate any issues that arise, during which time, you will not receive benefits.

Both you and your employer can make your cases if an eligibility issue should come up. If you do not give the information by the deadline or fail to arrive for an interview when it is schedule, the decision will still be made without your evidence in hand, which can cause you to lose out on your benefits.

For more information, go to: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/handbook/english/contentspart6.htm

How To Apply For Unemployment Benefits

In order to receive unemployment benefits, you need to complete an initial application within a week of the end of the calendar week for which you wish to start receiving checks. If you wait, then you may lose how much you are entitled to. The claim will not start until making this claim, and you do not get benefits for missed weeks earlier on.

You need to make an application every time you want to start getting benefits. In Wisconsin, you must file your claims either through the Internet or through the telephone, regardless of whether or not you currently live in another state.

You will need several things to get started:

  • Social Security Number;
  • Personal Identification Number, which is a 4-digit number you create during application that serves as a password. It identifies you, and you need to use it for any service on the phone or on the Internet when it comes to your unemployment benefits;
  • Wisconsin driver's license number, if applicable;
  • All employer names from the last 18 months, as well as a telephone number and address, the dates of employment and the reason that you no longer work for the employers;
  • Alien Registration Number for non-American citizens
  • Current mailing address, since you will need to receive documents mailed to you about the claim. You will need to notify the post office of your address changes when necessary; and
  • The name and number of your union hall, if you are a part of a skill trades union.
For more information, go to: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dwd/publications/ui/apply.htm#apply

File Online

Navigate to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development website and click "Individuals" followed by "File for Unemployment." Here, you'll have the necessary means to start your application and begin to receive your claims.

According to the state department, using the Internet to apply for benefits offers a number of benefits within itself. For example, you have no time limit to adhere to when completing the application, so you need not feel rushed to answer everything.

You'll also have the ability to clearly take the time to understand and read each questions as well as access help pages prior to answering a question to the best of your ability. Finally, you'll even have the chance to print your questions and answers to serve as a record once you reach the end of your claim.

For more information, go to: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/apply_online.htm

File By Phone

There are a few different numbers available for initial applications, depending on your situation:

  • Madison local calling area: 1-608-232-0678
  • Milwaukee local calling area: 1-414-438-7700
  • Elsewhere: 1-800-822-5246
  • Telephone typewriter device calls: TTY 1-888-393-8914. On this line, only a recorded voice will respond and ask questions; you'll need to press numbers to provide answers. This line is for speech-impaired, hard-of-hearing and deaf callers only.

Callers must press 1 to apply for unemployment benefits. A staff member will assist with the rest of the application once you have completed the questionnaire.

Applications can be started at the following times:

  • Sunday 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Monday-Friday 6:00 AM - 7:00 PM
  • Saturday 9:00 AM - 2:30 PM

However, those filing a claim for the first time generally require the help of a claims specialist, and the times these are available are as follows:

  • Monday-Friday 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
  • Saturday 7:30 AM - Noon
For more information, go to: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/apply_telephone.htm

Work Search Requirement

In order to qualify for benefits, you are required to actively seek work. The only exception to this is that the department has explicitly stated that it waives your requirement to search for work; only in this case would you not need to actively search for work.

Those who are required to seek work need to contact two employers per week.

The only people who generally do not need to seek work are those who will definitely return to a full time job with a former employer or those who are a part of a trade union that also features a referral system or hiring hall and has a standing agreement with the department.

Those who work part-time often do not need to look for work, either. However, this doesn't mean you should take a free pass from looking at work without clarifying; you will want to discuss with a claims specialist whether this waives your hard requirement to seek other work.

Remember that you run the risk of losing your benefits if you are not looking for a new job.

For more information, go to: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/handbook/english/contentspart4.htm

Weekly Claim Certification

The claim you make every week to receive a payment for unemployment during that week is known as a weekly claim certification. This is the step that actually triggers your payment. For Wisconsin, the calendar week refers to starting on Sunday and ending on a Saturday.

You are required to file your certification within two weeks of the end of the claimed week. However, you are not able to claim for the week until it has ended. If you fail to provide the necessary information when you file a weekly claim certification, then you run the risk of having your claim rejected. The state will then mail a notice with a number you are required to call within two weeks in order to complete the claim.

For more information, go to: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/handbook/english/contentspart3.htm

How Benefits Are Paid

The default way to receive benefits is through checks in the mail. You can also have these deposited directly into your savings or checking account, applying either through completing an authorization form or by enrolling online. Until you set this up, you will receive checks.

For more information, go to: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/ui_payment.htm


Outside of what was already previously mentioned, there are other reasons that Wisconsin can disqualify you from receiving benefits:

  • Those who are unemployed due to a strike rather than a lockout. Employees not participating but are unemployed due to the strike may also not qualify;
  • Not filing a weekly claim;
  • Quitting for no applicable reason;
  • Fired for absenteeism or misconduct;
  • Failing to search for work as required for any week; and
  • Refusing work without any good reason, which suspends benefits for four weeks and until you have earned 4 times your WBR.
For more information, go to: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/handbook/english/contentspart6.htm

How to Report Unemployment Fraud

If you know someone who is collecting unemployment benefits fraudulently, you must contact the Wisconsin DWD. All allegations will fall under investigation, and you do not need to provide your name. However, knowing who you are gives the state the ability to get more information. If you do not want to be known, avoid releasing information that could prompt to claimant could use to figure out who you are.

You can call the UI Fraud Hotline at 1-800-909-9472 or by writing at the following address:

UI Division Attn: Program Integrity PO Box 7905 Madison, WI 53707For more information, go to: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/contac.htm">http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/contac.htm">http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/contac.htm And: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/mail/asp/mailtoBenopnet.asp?WhoTo=uiproginteg@dwd.wisconsin.gov

Contact Information


UI Division PO Box 7905 Madison, WI 53707

Initial Claims Phone Numbers

  • Madison Area (608) 232-0678
  • Milwaukee Area (414) 438-7700
  • Toll Free (800) 822-5246

Weekly Certification Numbers

  • Madison Area (608) 261-9990
  • Milwaukee Area (414) 438-5395
  • Toll Free (800) 978-7887

Fraudulence Hotline

  • Toll Free (800) 909-9472

Assistance and Inquiries

  • Madison Area (608) 232-0824
  • Milwaukee Area (414) 438-7713
  • Toll Free (800) 494-4944
For more information, go to: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dwd/publications/sec_9575_locations.htm

Maybe We Can Help: 

If you can't find the answer to your question, you can fill out the comment form below and I will answer your question ASAP, or you can ask the The Unemployment Expert.


# Penny 2013-03-13 21:33
I injured my leg and home and have been on short term disability. My doctor finally said I can return to work but I have to sit and not stand or walk. My job is retail. Which requires walking. He said that my job is too much for me to handle. His words " your job is killing you ". My job will not allow any restrictions. My disability is running out. Can I quit and get unemployment? Can the doctor write an order to back up why I have to quit?
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# Shannon G. 2013-04-19 17:25
I am currently laid off for the winter. I am in the process of moving to a town three hours away but in the same state WI. While in the process of moving my employer had called and stated that work was starting up agian. I said I am relocating to another town and can not return for the season. I have been laid off and collecting unemployment for the past 5 months. Does him calling me saying work has started back up mean that if I move I can't collect?
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# diana 2013-04-23 18:59
Hi I have been given the choice by my employer to eithe take a different position in another town or to take a leave of a since. If I refuse the offer and take the leave will I get unemployment?
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# Kimberly 2013-06-13 12:36
I am in the process of trying to get disability but unless I want to live on the streets I need some kind of money coming in. I was already fired from this job once because of my problem, I miss so much work but I have fml which only lets me take time off not pay me unless I have paid time off. I need to work but social security only allows you to make $980 a month to get it. I'm considering moving in with someone I may just get fired from work perminately but its hard for me to work yet I have to some what in order to survive. It's a no win situation, I don't know why it's so hard. If I was to quit so its easier to get disability could I get unemployment for a while until I can get it? P.s I've worked at least 10 years now.
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# Lucinda 2013-07-27 10:08
Im curious, my ex was working while still collecting unemployment and has an open case, we can see on public records. It shows he has to pay back over $4000.00. The $4000.00 is how much over ,he collected, is that the only punishment he could be looking at or could there be more? I cant seem to find any answers for him on the internet for WI?
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# Lois 2017-06-25 17:50
I found work and will stop receiving benefits. When I stop the claim by not filing does that mean the remaining benefits from this claim are in reserve? What happens if there is a problem with the new position and they let me go? Would the claim pick up where it left off?
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