Eligibility for Unemployment Insurance in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, you will need to establish eligibility for unemployment compensation to obtain access to unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. Meeting the unemployment insurance eligibility requirements is necessary to receive UI payments through the Wisconsin unemployment insurance program while you have been separated from work. The Wisconsin unemployment insurance program is a federal initiative designed to provide financial aid to eligible workers who are unemployed involuntarily. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) is responsible for administering the program on a state level and evaluating who qualifies for benefits. The Wisconsin DWD decides what are the requirements to get unemployment within the guidelines established by the federal government. The department considers these qualifications for unemployment to assess whether you are lawfully entitled to UI benefits. Petitioners must meet initial qualifications and continue to meet the UI eligibility requirements to collect benefits. For details on how to qualify for unemployment, download our comprehensive unemployment guide. Our guide discusses who qualifies for unemployment in addition to explaining the common reasons for being disqualified and other important information.

What You Need to Know About Eligibility for Unemployment in Wisconsin

Establishing eligibility for unemployment is the first step to accessing unemployment insurance benefits in Wisconsin. If you meet unemployment eligibility, then you can register with the state’s unemployment insurance program, a collaborative initiative between the Wisconsin and federal governments. Funded by a tax levied on state employers, the UI program partially compensates the wages of unemployed workers who are without a job for reasons that are not their fault and meet Wisconsin eligibility requirements.

If you meet UI requirements, then you can learn about the unemployment application process to obtain financial aid in the form of weekly unemployment payments. Alternatively, if you do not meet unemployment insurance eligibility requirements and file a claim, then you could be denied benefits and your eligibility for future benefits may be suspended. Requirements on eligibility for EDD unemployment benefits must be maintained throughout the award period.

What are the requirements to get unemployment in Wisconsin?

Eligibility for unemployment in Wisconsin goes beyond simply being unemployed and includes several wage, hour and work requirements. In Wisconsin, qualifications for unemployment insurance benefits include the following:

  • You must have earned enough wages at a recent job in Wisconsin over a certain period
  • You must be unemployed or partly unemployed for reasons that were not your fault
  • You must be physically and mentally able and capable to work and satisfy UI eligibility work requirements every week while receiving benefits
  • Earning less than a certain amount of wages and working less than a specific number of hours through part-time employment if you are applying for partial benefits

Learn more about how wage, hours and work criteria influence eligibility for UI benefits in our detailed unemployment guide.

What types of jobs meet eligibility for unemployment requirements in Wisconsin?

To meet unemployment insurance criteria, you must be working for an employer who is covered by state UI law. UI eligibility may not apply to you if you work for certain employers that are not covered by the program, such as a sales job with only wages in commission. To satisfy unemployment insurance eligibility requirements in Wisconsin, you must also be an employee and not an independent contractor. Independent contractors do not meet UI requirements because they are considered to be responsible for their own employment. Similarly, seasonal employees are not typically eligible for unemployment benefits. Petitioners must be aware of the employment requirements for unemployment benefits before applying to the program.

Disqualifications for Wisconsin Unemployment

Not all workers in Wisconsin are eligible for unemployment insurance when out of a job from a covered employer. The vets out applicants who do not meet the state’s requirements. You may be disqualified from meeting unemployment insurance eligibility requirements for several reasons including the following:

  • Being terminated from your job for misconduct or voluntarily terminating your employment without good reason
  • Being unavailable or incapable of working while receiving benefits or not completing unemployment work search requirements every week while receiving benefits
  • Living outside of the U.S., a U.S. territory or Canada while applying for unemployment insurance benefits, or being outside the U.S. or Canada for more than 48 hours while receiving benefits.
  • Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits
  • Being unemployed because of a labor dispute that is not a lockout

Issues With UI Eligibility in Wisconsin

Understanding eligibility for unemployment in Wisconsin is particularly important to avoid long-term consequences. Under UI eligibility law, you could be denied, suspended or have your benefits reduced if there are eligibility issues with your UI claim. In Wisconsin, an unemployment eligibility issue is a term used when your UI claim raises questions of legality. Such unemployment insurance eligibility issues may arise if you claim benefits when you have been disqualified due to reasons surrounding your terminations or job search. For example, if you continue to receive benefits while failing to complete UI job search requirements, then this may raise an eligibility issue.

If there is a potential unemployment disqualification issue with your UI claim, then the circumstances will be investigated by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and your UI benefit payments will be put on hold. When the unemployment benefit eligibility issue investigation is finished, you will receive a notice of determination. If you have been found to be disqualified from eligibility, then your benefits could be denied or reduced and your eligibility for future benefits could be suspended.