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Wisconsin Unemployment Eligibility

Unemployment Insurance (UI) provides temporary financial assistance to qualified individuals who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and who continue to meet eligibility requirements of State law.

The program is not a right to all who have lost their job.

You have to meet certain requirements to be eligible for benefits. There are separate requirements to receive benefit payment each week.

Non-Monetary Eligibility Requirements

You must be:

  1. Unemployed for no fault of your own. For example, you were laid off, still working but significantly cut working hours, were fired for a reason other than misconduct or aggravated misconduct, quit for a good-cause.
  2. Able to and available for work.
  3. Actively seeking suitable work.
  4. Register with Job Service. You must register as directed with Job Center of Wisconsin to be eligible to collect UI benefits.
  5. If the job hours were cut, you should not be working more than 32 hours a week to qualify for unemployment benefits.

The reason for you dismissal is what usually stands between you and unemployment benefits. The state will make a decision about your eligibility after getting information about your separation from both you and your employer. A written decision will be issued based on the information gathered.

Monetary Eligibility Requirements

In the state of Wisconsin, it is necessary to have worked under covered employment / insured employment to be eligible for unemployment benefits. It is highly unlikely to qualify for benefits if your were self-employed, worked for an educational institution while a student there or worked as a real estate or insurance salesperson and were paid only by commission.

Qualifying Wages

One primary rule for qualifying for UC is that the claimant must have earned minimum wages and worked minimum hours during his/her base period. You must have earned wages in covered employment in at least two quarters of your base period.

You also need to satisfy all of the following –

  1. Sufficient wages in your high quarter to qualify for the minimum Weekly Benefit Rate (WBR).
  2. You should have earned enough wages such that your wages for three of your lowest quarters when added up should be equal to at least four times your WBR.
  3. Total base period wages must be greater than or equal to 35x (WBR)
  4. If you were receiving unemployment compensation in a previous benefit year and the year has ended, you must have worked since the beginning of the current benefit year and earned at least eight times the WBR of that claim

The Weekly Benefit Rate (WBR)

Weekly benefit rate or WBR is the amount you will be receiving as unemployment compensation in a week when you have no other sources of income. Usually, it is 4% of the total high quarter wages from your covered employment. A high quarter is the calendar quarter of your base period where your income was the highest.

As per the laws governing unemployment insurance, the maximum and minimum WBRs are as follows –

  1. Minimum WBR is $54 and it requires a high quarter earning of $1350
  2. Maximum WBR is $370 and it requires a high quarter earning of $9250

Eligibility Questions

My employer wants to know if I am eligible for employment. Is this required and what should I do?

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-603) requires all employers to verify employment eligibility of new employees. When an employer hires you, the employer will require you show certain documents to prove your identity and your employment eligibility. If you are unable to present the documents to your employer within the time frame set by law, your employer must end your employment. This in turn may affect your eligibility for UI benefits.

Can I file for UI benefits while attending school?

You need to report that you are a student while you file claims for unemployment benefits. An investigation will be conducted to decide whether you are available for work. You may not have to be available for work while attending school if you are enrolled in a course of study that is considered “approved training.”

I am a school teacher. Can I apply for UI benefits during the school vacation when I do not teach?

If you work for a school only during the normal school year, you are ineligible for benefits based on school year employment during school vacation periods and between academic terms or years if you have reasonable assurance of returning to similar work after the vacation or at the start of the next term or year. You can receive benefits during these periods from other employers only if you have qualifying wages for a claim based on employment from the other employers alone.

Do I qualify for unemployment benefits if i quit the job?

Generally, quitting a job for a reason other than a good cause calls for ineligibility. However, if your can prove that you had to quit the job for a good reason or were made to quit though willing to work, you stand some chance.

Here are few cases which you might be able to relate to which come under the good cause category –

  • You took another job.
  • You became sick or disabled due to the nature of work.
  • You moved to be with your spouse or domestic partner whose job is outside your labor market area.
  • You needed to protect yourself or immediate family members from domestic violence or stalking.
  • You entered approved apprenticeship training.
  • You started approved training under the Trade Act.
  • You worked full-time and part-time jobs at the same time, and you quit the part-time job – then were laid off later from the full-time job.

Am I eligible for UI benefits if I were fired?

You could be eligible if you were fired for no fault of your own. But if it is misconduct or aggravated misconduct then you will not be eligible.

Check the details listed below to know the UI laws for a fired applicant –

  • Fired for misconduct. UI law removes that employer’s base period wages from the calculation of your Maximum Benefit Amount and also suspends your benefits for 7 weeks and until you earn 14 times your Weekly Benefit Rate.
The total amount of unemployment benefits the department could pay you during your benefit year. It is the lesser of 26 times your WBR, or 40% of your total base period wages from all covered employment.
  • Fired for failing to notify your employer of excessive absenteeism or tardiness.  UI law suspends your benefits for 6 weeks and until you earn 6 times your WBR.


Check the Q&A Section and Benefit questions if your question is not listed here.


Want to know your weekly benefit rate? Use our free and easy to use calculator to know your benefit payment.
Know more about unemployment eligibility.

  1. I am employed full time and have been out on an unpaid medical leave due to a heart condition made worse by stress. I did qualify for unemployment benefits. My doctor cleared me to return to work part time only. If my employer or myself terminates the employment, because they only have full time positions, will I qualify for unemployment until I can find a part time job?

    • Virginia,

      UI benefits are generally offered to claimants who lose employment due to no fault of their own. Please check further with the Unemployment Office.

  2. Can an employee draw if he was told several times to shave and hem his pants, but was only given 1 written warning?

  3. if i am moving states because my landlord is not going to renew my lease and i have to quite my job because of this. Do i qualify for unemployment?

    • I have a question about direct deposit and when the funds are released from the state. If the claim is filed on Sunday, when can I expect the funds to hit my bank?

      • Mike,

        They should not take more than 2-3 working days if the payment is transferred electronically. Please call the Claims Center for more.

    • Samantha,

      That might not be a valid reason for claiming unemployment. Benefits are only extended to claimants who lose employment due to involuntary reasons.

  4. I live in Pennsylvania, and my employer is a trucking company based in Wisconsin. I have been working there for three years and just noticed that they are not taking out any UI benefits from my pay checks. Is this legal and what can I do to get UI benefits if I were to be laid off?

    • Robert,

      If you’re a contractor, your employer might not be required to remit unemployment taxes into the system. Please call the Unemployment Office for clarification.

  5. My employer draft a Letter of Separation and indicated that I must agree to sign it or they would terminate me. However, by signing, they would agree not to contest my Unemployment Claims and would extended my insurance for 30 days and pay me for vacation leave still owed to me. Even though I resigned, am I still eligible to collect unemployment?

    • Brain,

      I am not sure of the legal validity of such agreements. Please consult a lawyer or contact the Unemployment Office in your state.

  6. My wife has received a job offer in another state 22 hours from our home. Would I be able to collect unemployment if I moved with her and our 3 year old son?

    • You will not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.

  7. I am inquiring about a demotion from an hourly management position to an entry level position because considered “no longer committed to the company” have having a baby. Was offered full time entry work at a 50% wage cut with hours such that daycare costs would exceed take home pay. Eligible for UI benefits if I can’t accept this position?

    • Diane,

      If you decide to quit owing to personal reasons, you may not qualify. Please call the Unemployment Office for clarification.

  8. I was on Work Release Program while incarcerated, the companies paid into unemployment. I needed to quit once release since I was not from or plan on living in the city the position was located. Now I am being denied unemployment because I quit. Is this legal since I had to relocate and the company I worked for is not in my area?

    • Each state formulates its own rules in this regard. Generally, quitting voluntarily is not welcome. However, you can consider the option of filing an “Appeal” if you think it was not your fault.

      Further details on the Appeals Process can be found on the official website.

  9. I am currently collecting an interstate claim through Minnesota which includes wages I made in Wisconsin in the base period. Since opening my claim in Minnesota I have had employment in Wisconsin. Will I be able to open a claim in Wisconsin if I exhaust my 26 weeks of unemployment from Minnesota before my calendar benefit year is up?

    • I just recently started a new job when my boss told me that the company reducing hours and that because I just recently started they going to laid me off but to finish my schedule until the 20 of March . I’m I able to collect ??

      • Nina,

        You should be eligible to claim UI benefits considering the involuntary nature of your exit. Please consider applying.

    • The UI benefits is a one time deal and not revolving in nature. You will not be eligible to apply from multiple states after exhaustion.

  10. Hi I received this the other day from UCI..and need help.. I did to the best of my ability to follow directions given to me for the dump of the load.. How does this make me …
    THE EMPLOYEE WAS DISCHARGED NOT FOR MISCONDUCT BUT FOR SUBSTANTIAL FAULT CONNECTED WITH HIS EMPLOYMENT. If following directions of management for the completion of your work or job for the day is the reason to find fault with your employment … would we all not be fired for this reason..

    BASED ON THE BEST AVAILABLE INFORMATION THE EMPLOYEE WAS DISCHARGED FOR VIOLATION A COMPANY POLICY. HIS INFRACTION WAS MINOR AND DOESN’T SHOW A WILLFUL OR SUBSTANTIAL DISREGARD OF THE EMPLOYER’S INTERESTS. HOWEVER HE HAD BEEN WARNED AND HAD REASONABLE CONTROL OVER HIS ACTIONS. in order to do what ever is being told to me I would have had to have disregard for the information given me to dump the load and proceeded to dump it someplace else and I did not. to my best of my ability I followed the direction given me to dump the load

    THEREFORE HE WAS DISCHARGED FOR SUBSTANTIAL FAULT. THE EMPLOYEE FAILED TO RESPOND TO THE DEPARTMENT’S REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION. I never rec’d the paperwork for this question.. as we have a new carrier for the post office…



    Thank you !!!
    please help me with this.. as a SPC in the US Army I have deployed twice and am training to be a chaplains Assistant. so I do follow directions and proper orders.. thank you for you time. Barry Steven Roseland WildRose WI

    • Please note this is a private forum. If you were denied Unemployment Insurance wrongfully, please file an “Appeal”, the details of which will be available on the official website of the Unemployment Office in your state.

  11. I am writing in regards to my place of employment, Bonded Fibers LLC. I have been employed there for 2 1/2 years. Since my hire, they have been continuously changing my work hours, my pay, and position, with little or no notice, with the most recent being as of Feb 1,2016. I started at 10.00 an hour now as of today make, $15.00. Beginning February 1st I will be making, $12.50. My question is…. Is this legal? I don’t understand how a company can keep doing this to it’s employees? This has happened at least 4 times during my employment. I am promised a wage for example, as of February 1st my pay was supposed to be dropped to 13.50 after a 30 day trial, but today I found out my rate of pay will be 12.50 per hour. I have family to support, receive state assistance, and my children’s mother can’t even attempt to get a job due to the inconsistancy of my employment. Can I file unemployment for lost wages, to compensate my initial rate of pay? Is this legal? I have wrote the dept of labor also

    • Precise information can be obtained from the Department of Labor. As far as Unemployment Compensation goes, most of the states let you apply for reduction in the working hours and not reduction in the wages.

  12. So if I was receiving unemployment in Wisconsin and moved to colorado I could continue receiving unemployment while looking for work there?

    • You can either get the claim file transferred to the new state or continue claiming from Wisconsin.

      Please call the claims center.

  13. My company laid me off, and I have not yet filed for unemployment (In Illinois) because they paid me a severance. My husband accepted a new job in Wisconsin and we will be moving in a month. Will I be able to collect unemployment in Wisconsin when I worked and was laid off by a company in Illinois?

    • You’re required to apply from the state where your last employment was based.

      You can file and claim online from anywhere.

  14. I am working full time and the owners decided to close for 2 weeks and I am not going to be paid. When the owners return I will still have my job. Can I apply for unemployment.

    • Not sure if you can claims for a short period of unemployment.

      Please check further with the labor authorities in your state.

  15. if fiance relocates for her new job and i have to quit my job while looking for work in colorado i could claim unemployment?

    • You will not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.

  16. If I feel that my boss is hiring someone to replace me, and wanting me to train them, would I be eligible for unemployment?

  17. I had to quite my job involuntarily because the company I worked for took away my shift I was working. Now they denied my unemployment and I have to go to an appeal hearing to fight my case. Can the company do this after 14 years of employment? I can’t work the night shift and never have because I am a care provider for my grandkids.

  18. I quit my job with my employer as the facility has a bed bug problem. This apparently has happened before. I contacted employee relations and their response, was basically deal with it or you can resign. I had asked for loa until the facility had been exterminated, which was denied. The company was going to do an “inspection”.
    The company did not even put out a memo to the employees regarding this, it was pretty much business as usual. I was and am not in the position financially to have to deal with sucha problem, should I bring them home. It was documented by two different employees.

    • Looks like your employer did not heed to a rather serious issue.

      If you’re writing to us to inquire about applying for UI,please go ahead and consider applying.Remember, your application must meet several other criteria as well.

  19. I am working a part time job and want to quit and get a different part time job that pays more. I will be getting laid off from my full time job next month. Will the switching of my part time job affect my unemployment?

    • Yes, it does. Part timers are eligible for UI benefits at a reduced rate as one is already drawing income from the part time job.

  20. I was offered a promotion at my job and started training for the new position. The company changed their mind on my promotion and decided to hire someone else. I could go back to my old duties and old pay if I’d like. I resigned in hopes to find an employer that doesn’t change their mind so easily.

    • Since you do not really have a question in your post, I assume that you’re looking at applying for UI benefits until you find a job.

      Please reply to this chain if you have any specific question(s).

        • Depends.I would strongly recommend that you go ahead and consider applying. There is no harm in doing that.

          When they call you for an interview,make your stance clear on why you left the job.

  21. I’m working for a company for 19 years. I will be loosing my job this June due to the company is going to a 24/7 work week. 2 12 hour shifts rotating schedule. Due to this schedule, I can no longer work for this company.Can I collect unemployment benefits?

    • This seems to blatant abuse of labor laws. Unfortunately,UI benefits are only extended to those who are out of work due to no fault of their own.

      Please speak to the labor department to see if this kind of work arrangement is acceptable under the law.

  22. I was working under contract through an agency when I suffered an aneurysm and was hospitalized and in recovery for 7 weeks. I returned to work and after 2 days the company they terminated my contract. Can I collect unemployment benefits? I am able to work and am actively seeking employment.

    • I worked for this company for a little over a year. I was fired for unsatisfactory work. I showed up every day. Came in early, Stayed late, and did what was ever asked of me..I’ve had a few write-ups in my file, But the last straw was when I missed a service call at 2:00am

      • If you’re looking at drawing UI benefits,it may be challenging as you were “fired”.

        Please consider applying and be ready to fight it out.

  23. I have worked my current job with the County for 32 plus years. I will be teriminated as of Jan. 30, 2014 because I cannot perform the skills that they are now requiring where I work. Am I eligible for uneployment.

  24. does the qualifiying week run from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 or is it on a rolling year basis? (ie: April 2013 thru March 2014)

  25. My wife was terminated from her job October 30, 2013. She has since qualified for benefits. During her initial sign up, she incorrectly or failed to complete the entire enrollment process and had to redo it. That made her benefits begin 2 weeks later than they should have ( First payment began December 5th instead of the second week of November. She is now told that she cannot apply for those missed weeks where her enrollment was in transition and inaccurately completed. Is that correct? I have never heard of such a thing. Is that a state law or an unemployment rule? Please advise.

  26. I have been given an ultimatum that I will either need to quit or I will be fired. My employer is stating that I am not a good fit for my position after 1.4 yrs. and that I am not meeting performance goals.
    Does this situation constitute “good cause” if I quit (which will look better for job searching vs. getting fired).

  27. I am on short term disability, and will be let go by my employer. Can I receive unemployment after the doctor releases to work again?

  28. If my mother is receiving social security and just recently was terminated from her job, due to her restrictions from health issues, is she eligible?

    • Yes, as long as the job for extra money pays into unemployment – which includes most employers – there are, however a few exceptions. Perhaps you could ask your employer.

    • To qualify for unemployment, you must lose a job or have reduced hours due to no fault of your own. If you are able to work – you may be eligible. However if you can’t work because you are pregnant you do not qualify.

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