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File for Unemployment in Wisconsin
You can file for unemployment in Wisconsin in two different ways: by the Internet and via phone. Filing for unemployment is also possible at the state’s unemployment office. If you need help filing, the Wisconsin unemployment office can be a helpful resource.
Unemployment Application and Initial Claim
File Your Unemployment Application and Initial Claim Process
To file your claim online, you must use the Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance Benefit Services website. This requires creating a secure username and password. Avoid using your last name in your password or creating one that is easy to guess, such as “ABC12345.”
Once you have created your login information, you should write it down and store it in a secure place. You can then file your claim following this simple process:
- Enter your personal information, including your Social Security Number, to create an accurate claim
- Fill in your employer's information, including their name and the dates you worked with them
- Indicate why you lost your job – this is important, as it will help gauge whether you are qualified for unemployment benefits
- Add any other relevant information, including the type of work you were doing for each employer indicated in your claim (often automatically uploaded based on your tax records)
If you would rather file by phone, you can call 414-438-7700, 608-232-0678, If you are deaf or hard-of-hearing, call 1-888-393-8914. Alternate language options are available upon request.
You need to call on the appropriate day of the week, which is based on the last digit of your Social Security Number:
- 0-2 – Monday
- 3-6 – Tuesday
- 7-9 – Wednesday
You can also call on Thursday and Fridays regardless of your Social Security Number, but you will likely have a longer wait.
When applying for unemployment insurance benefits by phone, make sure you call during appropriate hours, which include:
- Monday – Wednesday: 6:00 a.m. through 7:45 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. through 7:00 p.m.
- Thursday and Friday: 6:00 a.m. through 7:00 p.m.
Documents and Information Needed During Filing
When filing for unemployment in Wisconsin, you need the following documents and information:
- Wisconsin driver's license or state ID number
- Social Security Number
- Current address
- Phone number
- Information on your employers for the last 18 months (business names, addresses, phone numbers, reasons you don't work there, and your work dates)
- Alien Registration Number (if you are not a U.S. Citizen)
- A form DD-214 if you served in the military over the last 18 months
- A form SF-50 or SF-8 if a federal employee
Claim Weekly Benefits
Every week that you receive unemployment insurance benefits, you must make a weekly claim certification. This is to verify that you are following the rules set for Wisconsin unemployment insurance, remain eligible, and are actively searching for work.
Failure to file your weekly claim will cause your weekly benefits to be cancelled for the week. Continued inability to claim may result in an audit and benefits may be cancelled completely.
How to Claim Weekly Benefits
In order to qualify for unemployment benefits, you must file your weekly claim within 14 days of the end of the week you are claiming. Calendar weeks always start on Sunday and end on Saturday.
File your weekly claim by signing into your online unemployment account and answering the following questions accurately.
- Were you able to work full-time?
- Were you available for full-time work?
- How many hours would have been available for you (32 hours or more)? (If you answer yes)
- Why were you unable to work full-time? (If you answered no)
- Did you contact at least four employers during the week?
- Did you refuse any work offered to you?
- Did you miss any work that you were scheduled to perform?
- Did you quit a job or were you fired?
- Were any wages paid to you during the week, including sick pay, bonus pay, or commission?
- What was the gross income and the hours you worked? (If applicable)
- Are you eligible for or receiving any Social Security benefits?
- Were you self-employed during the week, such as owning your own business or farming? (Note: selling Avon, Amway, or Tupperware is NOT self-employment and must be reported as work)
Failure to provide answers to all of the questions above may result in a loss of benefits for the week and, if you deliberately lie about any information (including wages earned in the week), felony charges may be issued against you:
After submitting your claim, it will be accepted, denied, or your Weekly Benefit Amount will be adjusted. Complete this claim as early as possible during each claim week to avoid mistakes or discrepancies that could cause your claim to be denied.
Claim Denials or Discrepancies
One of the most frustrating situations one can experience when filing for unemployment insurance is being wrongfully denied or suffering through claim discrepancies.
This situation is often caused by mistakes when you initially file for benefits or by your last employer attempting to avoid granting you unemployment. Employer's unemployment tax rates increase when their employees collect unemployment insurance benefits.
Wisconsin has an appeal process set in place to help protect your rights. It is also set up to protect the rights of employers if their former employees are falsely reporting wages or withholding other information.
Appeals Process for Denied Claims
There are two ways that you can file an appeal. The first is to print off an appeal form or obtaining one from the nearest hearing office. The proper appeal office will be listed on the back of your determination.
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When you get your appeal form, you need to fill it out by providing the following:
- The nine-digit determination identification number in the proper space – you can find this number on the upper-left corner of your determination
- Your personal information (name and Social Security Number)
- The name and address of your former employer
- Any dates and times when witnesses cannot be available
- Special needs (such as wheelchair ramps or interpreters) necessary for your attendance
- The name and address of your attorney and when they are not available to attend a hearing
- Sign and date the form (including your attorney’s signature)
You must send your appeal by mail or fax it to the address listed on the back of the determination letter. If you don't want to report in this way, you can also file online using a similar form located here.
You will then need to wait until you hear back from the appeal office about your date and begin preparing for the hearing. Make sure to gather all your witnesses and evidence and create a presentation that is easy to follow. Be sure to show up on time on the day of your hearing. Being late may cause your claim to be dismissed.
During the hearing, you and your former employer will present evidence to the judge, cross-examine witnesses, and present a coherent case. You are trying to prove that your denial was improper, such as if your employer wrongfully claimed you were fired due to misconduct.
The results of the appeal will be mailed to you no later than a week after the hearing. If your appeal was successful, you should receive any money denied to you. You can also appeal to state and federal courts, should your appeal fail.
Office of Appeals Contact Information
There are four appeals offices in Wisconsin: the one that you should contact will be located on the back of your determination form. These offices typically serve geographical areas near them:
Fox Valley Hearing Office
54 Park Place, Suite 800
Appleton, WI 54914
Phone: (920) 832-2769
Fax: (920) 832-5434
Eau Claire Hearing Office
715 S. Barstow St., Suite 1
Eau Claire, WI 54701-3880
Phone: (715) 836-6567
Fax: (715) 836-1360
Madison Hearing Office
3319 W Beltline Hwy, Room E308
P.O. Box 7975
Madison, WI 53707-7975
Phone: (608) 266-8010
Fax: (608) 266-8180
Milwaukee Hearing Office
819 N. 6th St., Room 382
Milwaukee, WI 53203-1606
Phone: (414) 227-4731
Fax: (414) 227-4264