Computing Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance Weekly Benefits

Wisconsin State LogoUnemployment benefits in Wisconsin might not let you to maintain daily life you had while employed, but the benefits can help you remain economically solvent between jobs. Your benefit rate is based on your prior wages, with higher earnings resulting in highly weekly benefits. State laws set limits for both weekly benefits and total collective benefits, but federal funding might add to your total allotment.

After you are jobless in Wisconsin you must get in touch with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce office to collect unemployment benefits. Staff members at the department will assess your wages to decide the amount of unemployment benefits you are suitable to receive. Like most other states, Wisconsin has a minimum and a maximum benefit amount that unemployed workers can collect each week in spite of how much money they earned while they were employed.

The Maximum Amount of Unemployment Benefits in Wisconsin

Regarding weekly unemployment benefits, the highest amount obtainable in Wisconsin as of 2011 is $363. Generally, you may claim unemployment benefits for 26 weeks. Thus the highest amount of total benefits an unemployed person can collect in the state is $9,438. You could claim this sum over the span of a year if you opt-by not filling for benefits some weeks—but you can collect 26 payments.

Understanding Your Base Period

Your base period is a 12-month period before filing for unemployment. Dividing the year into fixed three-month quarters, Wisconsin describes the base period as first four of the five completed calendar quarters previous to a worker’s job loss.

In other words, if you filed for unemployment in the week of July 4, 2010, your base period would be from April 2009 till March 2010. Anything you made in the last complete quarter before the week you filed-which in this Instance is April through June 2010—does not add up toward the year-long total earnings employed to estimate your unemployment benefits.

Alternative Base Period (ABP)

If you do not have adequate wages to be eligible for a claim using the base period described above, an “alternate base period” will be employed. The alternate base period will be the 4 most recently completed calendar quarters prior to the week you filed your initial claim application for a new benefit year.

Extended Base Periods (EBP)

Wisconsin does not provide Extended Base period.

Determining Your High Quarter

Next, you need to work out your highest-paid quarter, or high quarter. This is basically defined as the quarter within your base period during which you made the maximum wages, adding up earnings from all work you had.

Remember that the quarters are set periods. You must not choose consecutive months randomly, but keep to calendar quarters: January through March, April through June, July through September and October through December.

Calculating Unemployment Benefits

Calculate Weekly Unemployment BenefitsThe key to deciding your eligibility for maximum unemployment benefits in Wisconsin is the sum of your earnings from recent work. In particular, the state matches your wages from your base period –the 1st four calendar quarters of the five most recently finished quarter before your claim.

While your total base period earnings decide your eligibility for benefits, the wages from your highest earning quarter decide your weekly benefit amount. The state takes 4% of your high-quarter earnings and sends you that sum each week. In order to obtain the maximum $363 weekly rate, you must have earned no less than $9075 in your high quarter.

When Wisconsin finds out how much to give you per week, it uses a formula mandated by state law. It employs the high-quarter method and computes the weekly benefit amount.

High Quarter Method: More than half of the states decide the weekly benefit amount by using the base period quarter in which wages were maximum. This quarter is viewed as the period most nearly reflecting full time work for the worker. By dividing this sum by 13 – the number of weeks in a calendar quarter – the average weekly wage is computed. Depending on the percentage of the weekly wage the state plans to replace, the weekly wage is divided and the weekly benefit sum is computed.

Formula for estimating weekly benefit amount

HQ (High Quarter Method)


Estimate your benefitsYou may be eligible for the weekly minimum benefit of $54 up to the maximum weekly rate if $363. 4% of your highest quarter wages during a qualifying employment base period decide benefit amounts.

The maximum benefit time limit for usual unemployment compensation is 26 weeks or when your benefits tire out 40%of your base period earnings, whichever is less.

The minimum WBR is $54, requiring high quarter earnings of $1,350; and the maximum WBR is $363, requiring high quarter earnings of $9,075.

Get an estimation of your Unemployment Insurance Weekly Benefit Rate should you become unemployed.

Covered and Excluded Employment

Covered employment is the work you carry out for an employer who is put through the unemployment insurance law. However, some work is “excluded” when performed for a covered employer. Only wages paid from covered employment can be employed to be eligible for unemployment benefits and to compute how much you can be paid.

Qualifying Wages

To meet the criteria for unemployment benefits you must have been paid wages from covered employment in no less than 2 quarters of your base period. You need:

  1. Sufficient wages in your high quarter to qualify for the minimum Weekly Benefit Rate (WBR);
  2. Wages in your 3 lowest quarters that equal at least 4 times your WBR when added together;
  3. Total base period wages equal to at least 35 times your WBR; and
  4. If you were paid benefits in a previous benefit year which has ended, you must have worked since the commencement of that benefit year and earned at least 8 times the WBR of that claim.

Computing Partial UI Benefits For a Weekly Claim

How Partial Benefits are CalculatedThe “partial wage formula” used to compute partial weekly UI benefits is shown below:

  1. Subtract $30.00 from the gross income.
  2. Multiply the remainder by 0.67 (67%).
  3. Subtract this new amount (including the cents) from your Weekly Benefit Rate.
  4. Round the remainder down to the nearest whole dollar. This is the amount of partial UI benefits payable for the week.

The smallest UI check that we will pay is $5.00, so if your computation results in a sum which is less than $5.00, no payment will be made.

Example: WBR=$200 Gross Income=$250

  1. $250.00 (Gross Income) minus $30 = $220.00
  2. $220.00 multiplied by 0.67 = $147.40
  3. $200.00 (WBR) minus $147.40 = $52.60
  4. Round $52.60 down to $52.00

38 thoughts on “Computing Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance Weekly Benefits”

  1. If an employee voluntarily quits a job because they are moving to another part of the state, does that make them eligible for unemployment?

  2. If a person gives a notice because of another job offer with growth potential and the newjob decides no to fill the position. Why would you not be eligible benefits they did not create the unemployment situation. This seems so unfair. The laws really need to be more generalized. This will prevent people homeless.

    1. Is there someone I can actually contact? I’m enquiring about my son. He was a bartender (laid off when non essential businesses closed) and recently died. I know he was having trouble getting through to unemployment (COVID). He does owe child support so I’m seeking a way to try to get his unemployment for his child up until the time he died.

  3. reading about maximum amt of unemployment benefits –one part says you can collect for 26 weeks then in another article it says it is limited to 60 weeks so what is correct??

    1. Regular state unemployment benefits are available for a maximum of 26 weeks and after this you may avail EUC benefits. The number of weeks of EUC depends on the unemployment rate of the state.

  4. I was recently terminated from my job of 18 years due to lateness to work because of documented stress, depression, and insomnia due to the hostile work environment I worked in. I have the MD’s FMLA documentation of the conditions and limitations I was going through. Would I be eligible for unemployment while I look for another job ?

    1. I would look into a lawyer Jenna. This all sounds to me, suspicious, because you were on FMLA and on top of it, it was “due to the hostile work environment”.
      Most of these lawyers will give you a free consultation. Then if they take your case, they usually “don’t get paid unless you win”.
      It is not fair that you had an employer who didn’t take care of the hostile work environment and then terminated you on top of it. You can always apply for unemployment. Then it’s up to Unemployment whether you’re eligible or not, after they’ve heard the employer’s side and your side of why you were terminated.
      Stay strong, keep your head up and fight for yourself. God Bless.

  5. can you receive unemployment insurance while you TRY out a jod to see if you can perform the job duties?

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  7. I have been at my place of employment for 6 years. My current position which I held for a year was eliminated. I took a lower position with a $2 an hour pay decrease, along with a reduction in my work hours. After 3 months I chose to quit, to much stress with new management and work situation. Am I eligible to apply for unemployment?

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  9. I work in a medical clinic.I am starting to get credit days.I can either go without pay or use vacation hrs.Do I qualify for unemployment or is there a frequency amt this can happen?

  10. trying to find out how many weeks I have left to claim , every number I call goes directly to filing a weekly claim

  11. why haven’t someone called me yet I need more income so I can pay my rent and so I can live

    1. Please note we’re not a govt. website. Please follow up with the claims center by phone for an update on status.

  12. My job in Illinois was eliminated and I have exhausted benefits from Illinois. I moved to Wisconsin 2 years ago and the only job I’ve landed is part Time with Waushara County Dpt. of aging & now receive Social Security benefits. I work 14 – 18 hours weekly and gross approx. $178 a week. I’ve had this job over 20 months. Will I qualify for benefits & how much will I receive

    1. You will not qualify for UI since you’ve already claimed and exhausted benefits from another state.

      Unemployment benefits are not revolving in nature.

  13. The position that I work in, is a part-time flex position, so during the busy months, I work 40+ hours a week, but in the summer, I can work as little as 20 hours every other week or not at all. Would I be able to collect unemployment during the summer, even though I willing took the job knowing I wouldn’t have full time in the summer?

    1. You may not qualify for unemployment benefits due to scheduled time off.

      Seasonal and part time workers are not eligible.

    1. The E.U.C(Emergency Unemployment Compensation) remains expired. There is no extension available. Please inquire further with the labor authorities in your state by calling them.

  14. I have been on workers compensation on and off the last 2 yrs I worked a total of 5 1/2 months the last yr and lost my job due to surgery I have now been released for work how is my benefit calculated?

  15. If I quit my job due to my position being moved to a further away location and can’t make the move due to being my dad’s caretaker as he is in hospice care in my home, would I quality for unemployment benefits? I did not give a notice.

    1. Cindy,

      Voluntary reasons are generally not accepted. Please speak to the Claims Center and proceed accordingly.

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