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Wisconsin Unemployment Eligibility

Wisconsin Unemployment Benefits

Wisconsin Unemployment Eligibility Calculator

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How to qualify for Wisconsin unemployment benefits

The Wisconsin unemployment insurance program provides financial compensation to people who lost their job through no fault of their own as they look for new employment. In order to receive these benefits, you must meet the state’s eligibility requirements. This includes:

  • Being completely or partially unemployed through no fault of your own
  • Earning sufficient wages in the 12 to 18 months before filing
  • Having the ability and availability to work
  • Registering for work with Job Center of Wisconsin
  • Performing four work search actions per week
  • Filing your weekly claims on time

Monetary eligibility requirements

Your eligibility for benefits and weekly benefit rate is based on how much you earned during your base period. In Wisconsin, the amount you earned during your highest earning base period quarter is what determines your weekly benefit amount. The base period is the first four out of the past five calendar quarters worked, though the department may use an alternate base period if you fail to meet the wage criteria under the standard base period. The alternate base period will use the last four worked quarters before you filed for benefits.

To meet Wisconsin’s wage requirements, you must:

  1. Have received wages from insured employment in at least two quarters of your base period.
  2. Have a weekly benefit rate of $54 or more.
  3. Have wages earned in three calendar quarters of your base period, with the lowest earnings adding up to at least four times your weekly benefit rate.
  4. Have total base period wages that are at least 35 times your weekly benefit rate.

You can estimate your weekly benefit rate by using the Wisconsin unemployment calculator.

Wage credits

A wage credit is the money you earn from an employer that contributed to the state’s unemployment tax pool. When it comes to receiving unemployment benefits in Wisconsin, the wage credit is significant because it helps determine if you qualify for benefits and how much you will receive.

Non-monetary UI benefit eligibility requirements

Unemployment insurance benefits are for individuals who are currently unemployed through no fault of their own, and are ready and able to find full-time employment. To determine if you are eligible for UI benefits in Wisconsin, you must submit an application and provide details about your personal information and past employers.

In addition, Wisconsin unemployment applicants are required to fulfill the state’s work search requirement, which means actively seeking employment opportunities. They are also required to register for work with the Job Center of Wisconsin.

How many weeks of Wisconsin unemployment do I qualify for?

Unemployed workers in Wisconsin are eligible for 26 weeks of benefits or 40% of their total base period wages from all insured employers—whichever amount is smaller. Additional weeks may be available when extended benefits activated, which typically occurs when the Wisconsin unemployment rate is too high.

The total amount of wages you are eligible for is known as your maximum benefit amount. Each week you receive benefits, the amount paid is subtracted from your maximum benefit amount until it reaches zero. This number will reset 52 weeks after you initially file for benefits.

Maintaining Eligibility

Once you have submitted your initial unemployment claim, it is important to file a weekly claim to receive your payment. This process requires you to provide information about any work you performed and the money you earned throughout the week.

Additionally, you will need to document the efforts you made to secure a new full-time job during that period. The state of Wisconsin requires you to perform four new work search activities each week to show you are making an effort to find new employment.

Failure to submit a weekly claim certification on time can result in a delay or denial of unemployment benefits.

What is considered “suitable work?”

In the context of Wisconsin unemployment benefits, suitable work refers to employment opportunities that are considered reasonable and appropriate for your skills, qualifications, and experience.

When assessing suitability, factors such as your training, education, prior work experience, physical and mental abilities, commuting distance, and wages are taken into account.

Can I work part-time and receive benefits?

Working or receiving certain types of income while collecting unemployment insurance can affect the amount of benefits you receive. If you work, miss work, or receive holiday, vacation, severance, or sick pay for 32 hours or more in a week, you will not receive any benefits for that week. However, if you work fewer than 32 hours and earn $500 or less, a “partial wage formula” will be used to calculate partial UI benefits.

Do I qualify for unemployment if I am self-employed?

To meet the eligibility requirements for unemployment, you need to be physically and mentally capable of working, looking for a suitable job, and open to accepting work. If it is found that your self-employment interferes with these requirements, you may not be eligible for benefits.

It’s important to note that income earned from self-employment is not considered as wages in the state of Wisconsin, and therefore does not affect your unemployment benefits.

What would disqualify me from the Wisconsin UI benefit program?

There are several factors that could disqualify you from receiving Wisconsin unemployment benefits. These include:

  1. Quitting without good cause: If you voluntarily leave your job without a valid reason or good cause, it could disqualify you from receiving benefits.
  2. Being terminated for misconduct: You cannot be fired from your job due to misconduct, such as violating company policies, stealing, or willful disregard for your employer’s interests.
  3. Refusing suitable work: You cannot decline a job offer that is considered suitable based on your skills, qualifications, and previous work experience while receiving unemployment benefits.
  4. Not actively seeking employment: You must actively search for and apply to suitable job opportunities. Failure to make reasonable efforts to find work can disqualify you from receiving benefits.
  5. Receiving severance, holiday, or bonus pay: You will not receive benefits for any week you receive severance, holiday, or bonus pay that is equal to or greater than your weekly benefit rate.
  6. Committing fraud: Providing false information, misrepresenting your employment status, or intentionally deceiving the department to obtain benefits is unemployment fraud, and can result in disqualification/potential legal consequences.

It’s important to note that these disqualifications are subject to specific circumstances and individual cases. It is recommended to consult the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development for accurate and up-to-date information regarding eligibility and disqualification criteria. If you are denied benefits, you have the right to file an appeal.

What can affect my claim for benefits?

If something happens that makes it hard for you to work or take a full-time job, it may affect your eligibility for benefits. Situations like losing child care, attending school, traveling, falling ill, or starting your own business can have an impact. If any of these situations apply to you, it’s important to inform the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development immediately.

Additionally, your weekly benefit rate may be decreased if you earn wages or receive income from other sources, such as part-time work, severance pay, or retirement income.

When do I no longer qualify for Wisconsin unemployment benefits?

You no longer qualify for Wisconsin unemployment benefits once you start working more than 32 hours per week or earn more than your weekly benefit amount after the partial wage formula is applied to your earnings. When this happens, you no longer need to file weekly claims, and the department will stop unemployment compensation payments.

  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. I have a pending on my unemployment filing week because I did not accept a job that was much lower in pay. My question is, will all future payments be pending until they investigate my refusal of work for that one week?

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

  4. I work as an electrician for a small company and have been off nearly 2 weeks due to my employer being unable too find jobs. It’s likely related to covid since this hasn’t happened in the last 4 years I’ve been with him. It is very difficult to predict how long I will be off since it fully depends on 3rd parties needing work done, not on my employer. This also limits the other jobs I can apply for since I have no intention of quitting or being fired.
    What are my options? I may have work in a day from now, or I may be off over a month.

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

    • I am in the police academy in Wisconsin until may and no longer work my 1 part time Job due to covid and my other part time jobs hours have been greatly reduced due to covid also. Am I eligible to continue to receive unemployment?

    • 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

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

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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).

  28. 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?

  29. 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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