Frequently Asked Questions


Applying for unemployment for the first time can be intimidating – if applicants do not have all of the most important information handy. Review the following Frequently Asked Questions about the Wisconsin unemployment program in order to apply for benefits with ease.

I was just approved for unemployment benefits, so will the money go into my bank account or be placed onto a card?

Most who receive benefits from unemployment will receive a benefits check in the mail. However, if you would rather utilize a direct deposit service, you can fill out a form from the unemployment office nearest you. Additionally, a prepaid debit card (ReliaCard) can also be issued. You will have to specify which payment type you prefer, otherwise, it will default to the prepaid debit card.

I filed my claim and it was accepted, but then I received a message stating that I needed to call a claims specialist. Is this a scam?

No, this is not a scam. If your claim was accepted, but then you received a request to call a claims specialist, it is most likely due to some inaccuracy that has been discovered on the claims form.

How long does it take before I receive my WI unemployment benefits compensation?

Unless there are questions regarding some of the information supplied on the initial application, you should receive your first check within seven days of submitting your first claim.

I also receive Social Security retirement checks. Will this affect the amount of unemployment benefits I receive?

No. Unemployment benefits are not dependent on a person’s income, which would include retirement checks.

How do I update my address in the system?

You would update any personal information, including an address change, through the online portal. If you are changing your name but it is not a claim week, then you will need to call one of the assistance numbers on file with the state department.

Why are my unemployment checks taxed?

Unlike other government assistance programs, unemployment money received is counted as income. Therefore, they are subject to taxes. However, if you would like to request that withholding not be done, you can use the online tax withholding application available online, or call a claim specialist.

I have started a job, but haven’t been paid, so do I have to report it yet?

Yes. Even if you have not received payment from a new job, the fact that you have a job will need to be reported on your claims submission. Wages are reported on the claim certification for the week the money was earned (not when you were paid).

I was only able to get a part-time job, so will I lose my unemployment?

No. In Wisconsin, a partial wage formula is used to calculate what your benefits will total, even if you are working part-time. So, you would still receive unemployment compensation, but it would be a lesser amount.

What is the Wisconsin Job Service, and do I have to register?

Yes, you will have to register for the WI job service program. This program is a requirement for unemployment beneficiaries, and enrollment must be done within 14 days of filing your claim. You will not receive payments until you have completed registration.

I’ve been offered a job, but it will require me to drive a long way. What if it doesn’t work out? Can I get my unemployment back?

Wisconsin allows a participant in the unemployment compensation program to try out a job for at least 30 calendar days. As long as you have quit the job for a reason that is understandable, such as a prohibitive commute, then your unemployment benefits will continue.

I found a job, but they are asking me to relocate to another state. Do I have to take the job to fulfill requirements by the unemployment program?

Relocation is not required in order for you to fulfill your responsibility, as long as the relocation is unreasonable and is longer than you could commute.

What if I decide to open my own business, and employ myself. Will that count?

The WI unemployment compensation center will have to do an investigation to determine if you are still able to take on dayshift work (of at least 30 or more hours) a week. If not, then no, you will not continue to receive benefits, and it will not count as making yourself available to work.

Why do I have to wait two weeks before having my interview?

The WI unemployment center knows that receiving benefits in a timely manner is important to someone that is out of work. However, each case must be investigated thoroughly in order to determine an award amount, eligibility, and to make decisions based on an individual’s circumstances for leaving employment.

I just finished my phone interview. How long until I receive my benefits?

In most instances, it will take about a week to enter all of the data into the system.

I am filing an appeal for denial of benefits, so do I still continue to receive benefits until the hearing?

Yes. You can continue to submit claims for assistance until the hearing date. However, keep in mind that if the unemployment denial is upheld, then any payments received in the interim time will have to be paid back.

I had to quit my job because of harassment by co-workers. Does that mean I won’t receive unemployment benefits?

Cases such as yours must be investigated to determine if the claims you are making are true. Since you left, however, the burden of proof will lie with you. You will have to prove that you had no other recourse to leave the job. Some employees quit because their companies were relocating and they could not move, they became disabled and were unable to continue or their companies had payroll checks that were bouncing. Proving a hostile work environment may be grounds, but there are specific instances which will have to be investigated by an agent.

Is it possible to call someone on the phone to tell them why I quit my job?

You will be able to do this when you have your phone interview. The agent will ask you to elaborate on the reason you specified for leaving the job. As a general rule, applicants are contacted and interviewed within 21 days.