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At the height of COVID-19, one of the tragedies of the pandemic was the loss of jobs and a rapid increase in the unemployment rate, especially in Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate shot up, thus the need to file for unemployment benefits was on the rise.
In that regard, there is a need to understand how to file for unemployment in Wisconsin.
In Wisconsin, as in any other state, workers who are temporarily unemployed as a result of COVID-19 or just job loss for reasons beyond their control may be entitled to unemployment benefits.
Eligibility requirements, previous income requirements, benefit amounts, and other details vary from state to state.
In this writing, we shall explore the basic rules for receiving unemployment benefits in Wisconsin and how to file for unemployment in Wisconsin.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) and the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Wisconsin’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.9 percent in August 2022, down from 3.9 percent in July and a decrease of 6, 1 percent in August 2020.
Without seasonal adjustment, the rate was 4.0 percent in August, compared with 4.1 percent in July and 5.8 percent in August 2020.
At the height of the layoffs in April, Wisconsin lost nearly 440,000 jobs, an enormous number larger than the populations of the state’s second and third largest cities – Madison and Green Bay, respectively – combined.
With the January employment data, almost a third of those jobs have still not returned.
Wisconsin created a total of 11,100 jobs in January based on the latest data. But the state still has tens of thousands of jobs to catch up before it returns to pre-pandemic employment levels.
In Wisconsin, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) manages unemployment benefits and decides on eligibility on a case-by-case basis.
Applicants must meet the following three eligibility requirements to receive unemployment benefits in Wisconsin:
Virtually all states look at your recent work history and income over a one-year “base period” to determine your unemployment entitlement.
In Wisconsin, as in most states, the base period is the earliest four of the five full calendar quarters before you submitted your benefit claim.
For example, if you submitted your application in October 2022, the base period would be June 1, 2020, to May 31, 2022.
The prerequisite for this is that you have received wages for at least two quarters in the base period.
In addition, you must meet the minimum income threshold in your highest quarter, your three lowest quarters, and your entire base period.
However, if your actions reach “wrongdoing” levels, you are not entitled to unemployment benefits.
In Wisconsin, misconduct is behavior that shows a “willful and material” disregard for the interests of the employer or that is otherwise inconsistent with the standards that an employer can reasonably expect an employee to do.
Serious violations of company policies, such as showing up for work under the influence of drugs or committing violence in the workplace, are considered misconduct.
Minor offenses can also be considered misconduct if the employee has not corrected the behavior after having been informed of the risk to his job.
Material negligence includes acts or omissions that violate appropriate company policies but not inadvertent mistakes, minor violations of rules that have not been corrected by the employer, or failure of an employee to fulfill the skills required for the position.
Wisconsin law also provides a number of other acceptable grounds, including relocation of a military spouse, domestic violence, or certain duties of care.
To be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must be able to work, be able to take a job and be looking for a job.
If you are offered a suitable position, you have to accept it. A position is suitable if it is proportionate to your qualifications and hourly wages, distance, and other working conditions are typical for your job.
However, the longer you are unemployed, the more willing you need to be to take on a job that requires fewer skills or is less paid.
You need to conduct an adequate job search, i. H. conduct at least four job searches every week.
You should document your job search efforts, including the employers you contacted, the dates you contacted, and the outcome.
The DWD can contact you or your employer contacts to review your efforts.
The DWD determines your weekly benefit level. Your weekly benefit amount is 40% of your average weekly wage, up to a maximum of $370 per week. The minimum weekly benefit is $54.
The benefits are usually available for up to 26 weeks but can be extended during periods of high unemployment.
To get an idea of how high your weekly performance could be, enter your information into the DWD’s weekly performance calculator.
You can apply for unemployment benefits online, by phone, fax, or post. After submitting the application, you must continue to submit weekly applications to the DWD for each week for which you are using the services.
You must also enroll with the Job Center of Wisconsin to receive benefits.
As soon as your application has been received, the DWD will send you a number of documents, including a UCB-700 form stating your potential weekly benefit amount and duration.
Steps to Apply Online:
Apply online during these times
Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Monday – Friday 6:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
If you need help using online services, or if you really are unable to get online, call (414) 435-7069 during business hours.
You can find more information about unemployment insurance on our website: dwd.wisconsin.gov/ui
Information for the application
If your application for unemployment is rejected, you can file an objection.
Your application for objection must be made in writing (letter format is sufficient, or you can submit it online) and it must be received within the period specified in the DWD’s initial assessment notice.
Upon receipt of your appeal, a hearing will be held to obtain evidence from both you and your employer.
The hearings usually take place in person at an unemployment benefits hearing office.
An administrative judge (ALJ) conducts the hearing and issues a written decision.
If you do not agree with the ALJ’s decision, you have 21 days to file an appeal with the Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC) for review.
If you are not satisfied with the result, you can appeal to a Wisconsin Circuit Court.
The DWD provides additional information on the unemployment procedure on its website, including current eligibility requirements, benefit amounts, and possibilities of objection.
IMPORTANT: Your entitlement begins in the week in which you apply. To avoid loss of benefits, apply for the first week of your unemployment. Don’t wait until the week is over.