How to Claim Unemployment Benefits in Wisconsin

Regardless of what state you reside, there are certain guidelines that you may pursue when filing for unemployment. In case you have lately lost your job—be it a lay off or if you were fired – you might be entitled for unemployment benefits. In the state of Wisconsin, one of the easiest and fastest ways to file is by doing it online.

Wisconsin unemployment benefits offer short-term compensation to those workers meeting the eligibility requirements of Wisconsin law. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development manages its own unemployment insurance program within Federal rules.

There are a number of aspects to consider if you need unemployment insurance from the state of Wisconsin. You should study your eligibility, your weekly benefits and tax information before applying.

The value of unemployment benefits in Wisconsin varies from that of other states because each state unemployment office applies its own limits and formula when computing the level of unemployment compensation. The period of unemployment benefits in Wisconsin may also vary from that other states.

Eligibility Issues

Although a person has earned adequate wages during the base period, there are a number of factors that can lead to disqualification for unemployment in Wisconsin.

Applicants can be barred if they were fired from their most current employment for misconduct or excessive absenteeism. Eligibility issues also occur if a claimant abandons his or her job for no good reason, fails to make a suitable work search for a given claim week or works in excluded employment.

Excluded employment involves uncovered jobs such as working for a school while a student at that school and working for a family-owned business. Finally, working full time hours, or not being obtainable to work full-time hours, can also outcome in benefit disqualification.

For more information check Wisconsin Unemployment Eligibility article.

When should I apply?

You must apply for jobless benefits by completing a first claim application in the first week for which you want to obtain an unemployment check or within 7 days of the end of that calendar week. If you wait to file your claim, you could lose benefits. You claim does not begin until you file your initial claim and benefits will not be paid for previous weeks.

An application must be made every time you want to begin collecting benefits. All claims based on work done in Wisconsin are filed either by online or by telephone, even if you reside in another state at present.

What Information Do I Need to Apply?

  1. Your Social Security Number
  2. A Personal Identification Number (PIN) which is a 4-digit number you frame before applying and it helps to identify you. The same PIN has to be used for all telephone and online unemployment services. Decide a PIN you will remember
  3. Your Wisconsin Driver’s License Number
  4. The names of employers for whom you worked in the past 18 months
  5. For each employer you will also need, a full address (including zip code), a telephone number, the reason you are no longer working there and your first and last dates of work
  6. Your Alien Registration Number, if you are not a U.S. citizen.
  7. If a member of a skilled trades union, the name and local number of your union hall.
  8. Your Current Address. You need a valid mailing address to receive important documents about your claim. Make sure you have notified your post office of any recent changes to your address.

How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits?

  • Apply by online
  • Apply by phone

How Do I Apply Online?

Apply online by using Online application.

What are the Advantages of Applying Online?

When you make use of Internet application to apply for benefits you may take as much time as you want without feeling rushed.

You can see the questions and answers and easily study the help screens before answering the questions.

You will have a chance at the end of your claim to print a record of the questions and your answers for your records.

Certain situations need extra information that the unemployment department cannot collect via the Internet application at this time. You may be instructed to call a claims specialist to complete your claim. The information you have already given will be saved and obtainable to the claims specialist when you call.

How do I apply by telephone?

Apply by calling one of the following telephone numbers:

  • If you live in the Madison local calling area:  608-232-0678
  • If you live in the Milwaukee local calling area: 414-438-7700
  • If you live outside of the Madison or Milwaukee local calling area: 1-800-822-5246
  • For deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-impaired callers (Callers must have a telephone typewriter device. Voice calls are not answered on this number.):  TTY 1-888-393-8914

A recorded voice will answer your call. The voice will ask you questions and tell you what numbers to press to give your answers.

You have to press 1 to apply for benefits. After you have answered all the questions, one of the personnel will help you finish.

Apply during these times:

  • Sunday- 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Monday-Friday- 6:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Saturday- 9:00 AM – 2:30 PM

After you file for new Application:

You will obtain a claim confirmation form and handbook in the mail.

In case you meet the criteria for unemployment benefits, the unemployment department will send you a notice telling you the amount of benefits you can collect.

If you do not qualify for unemployment benefits, the unemployment department will send you a notice that tells you why.

58 thoughts on “How to Claim Unemployment Benefits in Wisconsin”

  1. I was off my job this month on the 11th and my car was in the shop. I use my car as a pizza delivery driver at Domino’s Pizza. I need to collect my benefits in order to go back to work and get my car out of the shop.

  2. I had applied for unemployment benefits November of 2012. It was approved by adjudicator 1240. However, I did not continue because I had an upcoming surgery, and would not have been able to properly look for employment as required. I have since had the surgery on 1/9/2013 and I am now looking for work. I also retired and receive $1200/month. Can I still receive my benefits?

  3. I was informed that I would be receiving unemployment “back pay” in February 2013. As of today I still have not received the back pay. Would you please give me a status update. Thank You.

  4. When put in my claim for last week over the phone. I was not given the option to report wages. I did work 1 day for 6.25 hours my wage for that amount of hours is $68.75.My employer is The Nurturing Nook. Inc.575 RiverWoods Ply.Glendale,wi 53212. Thank You.Sincerely! Julie Jasculca

  5. It is unfair and unjust that I paid taxes to be able to have Unemployment benefits and to be in such a situation where I can’t talk to nobody while my benefits are being withheld for reasons that the unemployment services won’t talk to me before 21 days. I have a rent to pay and a family to feed. I feel very frustrated by what is going on. I can’t do nothing but get evicted because WI/UI can’t talk to me before 21 days.
    What is it about?

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    1. It may not really stop unemployment benefits but may delay them. Please always use the right information.

      In case of any unintentional errors, notify the claims center by calling them.

    1. If the reason for firing you is not due to performance or any other voluntary issues, you can claim unemployment.

  8. Don’t ever be late in filing an appeal. I was late with filing an appeal of an adjudicators decision to deny my claim. I was late in filing by 14hrs. There is a late filing appeal option but it is a joke as you must prove the lats filing was beyond your control. The administrative law judge in my case said too bad I had stated that I was so upset over the adjudicators decision that I didn’t read the whole letter to the bottom of the page where the due date for filing is written. Being upset is not a valid reason for late filing. I then appealed to the commission and they also told me too bad and upheld the administrative law judges decision. My final option is to sue in circuit court but i have received a letter from their attorney pleading that they did nothing wrong. I am not sure if I will get my day in court to plead my case. I cant believe they are playing hard ball with me over my claim. All my years of working paying into the system and getting shafted when I need help.

  9. I do in home care for an adult with disabilities and am paid through the IRIS program. He was hospitalized around Thanksgiving, so I lost my hours because the IRIS program does not pay for care while the client is in the hospital. Am I able to apply for benefits for this time?

    1. Not sure if you can be eligible for temp time off.

      Please call the Unemployment Office in your state for further information.

  10. possibly a stupid question, I am actively looking for a new job but my current job is barely giving me 15 hours a week. I have no idea how long before I get a new job and have many bills to pay. Can I file for unemployment until I can get a full time job?

    1. If you were working full time and the hours were reduced by your employer, you can claim the lost hours.

      Please contact the Unemployment Office by phone for further information in this regard.

  11. I work construction so in the winter one week we work one week we don’t work, I have received unemployment benefits only three times so far this year and now it is making me file another initial claim, does this mean I have to go through ANOTHER waiting week without benefits?

    1. You can apply on the basis of your existing claim which means you don’t have to wait.

      Please call the claims center for further information.

    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.

  12. I was let go last week July 5th due to lack of work. I have been told my severance will be 3 weeks. When should I file my claim?

  13. I gave 2 weeks notice on 11-3-16, and was dismissed that day. I do not have a new job yet. Am I eligible for unemployment compensation?

    1. Well, if you decided to leave the job voluntarily, you will not qualify.

      Please call the Unemployment Office for further details.

  14. Hello,
    My husband has been on medical leave from his Concrete job since the end of September and now the season is almost over can he apply for unemployment ?The doctors at St Mary’s have not cleared him to go back to work yet ?? Please advise he’s preety stressed out with worry

    1. Your husband may not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.

      Please call the Unemployment Office for further details.

  15. 02/09/2017

    I am wondering why I have not rcvd a 1099 for the my unemployment claims for 2016?

    Please send/or email to this mailing address:
    635 N 1st Street, Bruce, WI 54819

    1. Please note this is not a govt. website. You should be able to download the 1099-G from the official web portal or they would have sent it by mail.

      You can call the Claims Center for an update.

  16. Online application times out and using the outside Madison/Milwaukee phone # tells me it’s not available in my call area.

    1. Darrell,

      You can apply by phone or the internet. We suggest you file online for hassle-free management of weekly claims. Here’s is the website-

  17. It won’t let me Apply for benefits It’s up me to call the number but my call is busy so I don’t know what to do

  18. I’m a full-time realtor in northern Wisconsin. Due to Covid-19 I have not been able to sell or list a house.
    My understanding of the 2 Trillion stimulus package that’s been signed, I “may” be eligible for unemployment while not making any money.

    Yes I have a pension from the WRS. I’m a retired firefighter.

    Do you feel I am eligible or not?

    1. Robert,

      We understand this might be a difficult time for you. We’re anticipating a shortage of staff across unemployment offices due to the massive surge in UI applications considering the pandemic. We advise against calling or visiting the office, as you may not get a response instantly.

      Your state has activated “Extended Benefits (EB)” authorized by the federal government. We recommend you apply for UI benefits online. For more information, please visit your state’s official website.

  19. nothing is working. all 3 phone numbers are always busy. the online system keeps telling me my username and password are incorrect, but my computer stores theses and is not wrong. i tried to reset my password and user name but the answer to my security question keeps coming back as incorrect, but again i only have one aunt i like and the answer i give is correct. site also says several different people are associated with my email. but again this has been my email for the last 25yrs, and i have never claimed unemployment. i have 5 children and a spouse here at my house and we are getting super hungry, and did not horde any house hold items. please find at least one person there that has a clue how im suppose to do this. i was laid off 03/27/2020. on that day i tried to claim. i hope the issues you are obviously having doesn’t take alot of food off our table

    1. Dale,

      We can understand your situation. Due to a sudden surge in the number of applications, there will be a delay. Please be patient and keep checking at regular intervals.

  20. I’m been trying to to file a claim both on the phone and online and it won’t let me online it says that I have an account already haven’t applied for unemployment in 20 plus years so need help

    1. Kyle,

      The online system might be slow/unavailable due to the pandemic and surge in the number of applications. Please try during off-peak hours.

  21. Ihave a qestion if i had unemployment benefits last april and i had it for 2 months and was kicked off because i was incarcerated now that im out can i get benefits again

  22. I have been trying to get an update on my unemployment for 3 weeks and I can’t get through to anyone. My unemployment says pending review and this is getting really, really, old that I can’t get an answer.

    1. Mikel,

      I can understand your situation. Please be patient and keep checking at regular intervals. There might be a delay owing to the shortage of staff.

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