Wisconsin Unemployment Benefits
Unemployment insurance is provided by the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) in the state of Wisconsin. The UI benefits are provided with an intention to bring stability to the citizens of the state at the time of transitioning from one job to another.
The services provided by the DWD also aim to empower the job-seekers in the state by improving their competence through various training programs. The overall objective of the program is to facilitate job-seekers by not only providing monetary stability but also by providing an opportunity to adapt to the changing needs of the job market.
Eligibility to Apply for UI Benefits in Wisconsin
To receive Unemployment Benefits in Wisconsin, the applicants should meet the eligibility criteria set by the DWD. The eligibility criteria are classified into three parts- monetary eligibility, the reason for job-separation from the previous organization, and maintaining eligibility criteria after qualifying for UI benefits.
The DWD will, first and foremost, evaluate if you qualify for UI benefits based on your wages earned during the base period. You are expected to have earned wages in at least two quarters of your base period in covered employment
To understand the requirements under the monetary benefits, it is necessary to understand some basic definitions and calculations used by the DWD:
Calendar Quarter: A calendar quarter is a set of three months in a base year. Any year will consist of the following calendar quarters:
Base Period: The first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before you file for UI benefits. The wages received by the applicants by their ex-employer determine if they qualify for UI benefits or not.
If your benefit period is about to start from January 2019, your base period will start in October 2017. The four quarters in your base period will be:
- October-November-December 2017
- January February-March 2018
- April-May-June 2018
- July-August-September 2018
This consists of the first four of the last five quarters before the beginning of the January-February-March quarter of 2019.
Covered Employment: Your employment will be considered as covered employment if your ex-employer was subjected to unemployment insurance law. It is compulsory for the applicants to have received wages from an employer who pays unemployment insurance taxes to be eligible for UI benefits.
Lag Period: A lag period is a time gap between the end of the base period and the week during which you start your base period. The wages earned during the lag period will not be used to calculate the UI benefits entitlement.
High Quarter: The high quarter is a quarter in your base period during which you receive the highest amount of wages.
Weekly Benefit Rate (WBR): WBR is the UI benefits paid every week to the qualified claimants. The maximum and minimum weekly benefit amount (WBA) in Wisconsin is $370 and $54 respectively. You are expected to have at least $1,350 as wages in your high quarter to be eligible for the minimum WBA.
In order to receive $370 WBA, you must have a minimum of $9,250 as wages in your high quarter. You cannot earn a higher WBA even if your high quarter wages are more, as $370 is the maximum limit set by the DWD.
Qualifying wages: To qualify for UI benefits, you will need to meet the following criteria:
- You must have earned a minimum of $1,350 in the high quarter
- The sum of the wages in the three low quarters must be at least 4 times your WBA
- Your total base period wages must be at least 35 times your WBA
- If you received UI benefits in a prior benefit year which has ended, you must have worked since the beginning of that benefit year and earned at least 8 times the WBR of that claim
Once the DWD evaluates your case, one of the two forms will be sent to you based on the decision taken-
- UCB-700: This will be sent to you if you have enough wages to qualify for UI benefits
- UCB-736: This is sent to you if you do not have enough wages to qualify for UI benefits.
Establishing monetary eligibility is the first step towards qualifying for UI benefits. Once the monetary eligibility is established, the applicants must submit the reason for separating from the previous organization.
You will be instantly disqualified if any of the below cases apply to you:
- You quit your last job without good cause
- You were fired from your previous job for misconduct, in which case your benefits will be suspended for seven weeks and also until you 14 times your weekly benefit rate
- You lost your due to a strike or any other form of labor-dispute, other than a lockout
The DWD will examine the reasons given by the applicant. The department will also question your last employer about the reason for your job separation. In case if there is a mismatch in your statement and your former employer’s statement, the DWD might withhold your UI benefits.
In the state of Wisconsin proving monetary eligibility and meeting, certain job-separation criteria will let an applicant be eligible for unemployment benefits. It is very important that all claimants maintain their eligibility requirements throughout their entire benefit period. If claimants fail to maintain their eligibility it may lead to a disruption in your weekly benefits.
Applicants must make a note of the following factors to make sure to maintain eligibility while the benefits weeks are going on:
- You must be readily available for work at any given point of time
- Applicants must be actively seeking job opportunities
- Applicants need to be legally authorized to work in the U.S
- An applicant cannot refuse any offer of employment
- Applicants must complete at least four work search actions every week.
All applicants must document their work search requirements throughout the week. Information on the document shows whether the applicant has met all eligibility requirements during the particular week.
How to Apply For UI Benefits in Wisconsin?
For applicants to apply for benefits make sure to carry the following documents
Applicants can apply for benefits at https://my.unemployment.wisconsin.gov/ at the following timings:
- Monday – Friday 6: AM – 7:00 PM
- Saturday- 9: AM – 2:30 PM
- Sunday 9:AM- 2:30 PM
Once your application is completed you will receive a confirmation of your claim and an instruction form in the mail. The notice also contains the number of benefits you will receive.
If by any chance you fail to qualify for unemployment benefits you will receive a notice telling you why.
Claimants can also file claims through a telephone call in Wisconsin. Dial 414-435-7069 anytime between Monday to Friday between 7:35 AM – 3:30 PM.
How to File Weekly Claims
You can file your weekly claim both online and via telephone. Your weekly claim certificate is a claim you file for a particular calendar week. The calendar week for weekly claim starts on Sunday and ends on Saturday. If at all you earn compensations make sure to report it on your weekly claim.
Always file your weekly claim certificate within 14 days at the end of the calendar week for which you are claiming. Always remember you cannot file a claim for a particular week till it has ended.
UI Benefits Amount
This UI Benefits Calculator will help you to determine the approximate UI Benefits amount that you can presently receive in the state of Wisconsin.
Things to Know After Filing An Application
Once applicants have filed unemployment benefits it is important that applicants acquaint themselves with the rules and regulations associated with UI benefits. It is important that claimants are not subject to overpayments or fraud as they can be serious penalties associated with it in the state of Wisconsin. A host of job training services are also provided to help unemployed job seekers make the most of their benefit period.
Overpayments and Fraud
Preserving the integrity of the unemployment insurance program is very important as it helps only eligible applicants receive UI. Overpayments take place when claimants are paid extra UI benefits for what they are eligible to receive for any week. If payments are paid incompetently the claimant will receive a written document on the overpayment decision. The written document is a legal document that contains the amount of time you have to file an appeal.
Overpayments may occur due to the following reasons:
- Not reporting your earnings during your benefit year
- An appeal which finds you ineligible for the benefits you have received
- An issue regarding your job separation
- A mistake by the department where you receive overpayments of benefits
If claimants received overpayments of benefits it will be deducted from the benefits that the claimant was receiving. If the overpayments are not deducted from the benefits that the claimant receives, and does not respond to the collection letters. The department has full authority to take legal action against the claimant who is receiving unemployment benefits. The department may take the following actions:
- Seize the claimants’ wages and bank account to any extent as per law
- A civil warranty may be issued against the claimants real estate and property
- Claimants may have to provide a state or federal tax refund
Fraud: if claimants intentionally withhold information which in turn affects unemployment benefits. The claimant is committing fraud, the methods used by the department to detect fraud are audit payrolls, crossmatching payroll records with employers within the state and other states. The following factors can constitute fraud against a claimant in Wisconsin:
- Falsifying statements to acquire unemployment benefits for himself/herself or any other person
- Falsely representing any report in connection with the DWD
- Not maintaining adequate records as per the requirements of the DWD
The following action will be taken against the employer if he/she is committing fraud:
- The claimant will receive a benefit reduction of anywhere between two, four or eight times the weekly benefit rate for every week of fraud committed.
- The claimant will also be charged 40% of the overpayment amount from his/her own pocket
- Penalties and fines can range anywhere between $100 to $500 and you can be imprisoned up to 90 days.
The insurance program provided by the state of Wisconsin is a mutual partnership between employers, claimants and the department. It is the claimant’s duty to avoid fraud or any illegal activity while claiming unemployment benefits in the state.
No benefit extension programs are available to claimants in the state of Wisconsin. Benefit extensions are only available in the state in times of high unemployment. Claimants should call or visit the DWD to get a better understanding of the present Reemployment Assistance plans available in the state.
Job Training Assistance
The DWD and the Division of Employment and Training (DET) work in sync to implement a program for job seekers. The program is termed as the Re-employment Services program (RES). The main aim of this program is to make sure people get employed as fast as possible. The program offers online services and information that is combined with the Job Center of Wisconsin.
The following services are offered by the Job Center of Wisconsin so that they can get jobs as soon as possible:
- Workforce events are conducted almost daily which in turn helps applicants get jobs faster
- Labor Market Information provides claimants with data tools and several programs so that they can get acquainted with relevant information on the job market
- The Eligible Training Program List provides job seekers with a variety of training options to upskill their skillset
- The center provides job search assistance to all applicants
- Career exploration for both individual and groups
- Resource rooms for applicants to apply for jobs
- Special workshops to help job seekers with resumes, work search skills, and Interview technique
Claimants are selected for the RES once they have fulfilled their requirements to search for work. Also, claimants must have successfully registered on the jobcenterofwisconsin.com and should have received their first UI payment successfully.