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Applying for Benefits FAQ

Frequently asked questions about the process to apply for unemployment benefits the first time or if you've filed before.

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Apply for unemployment benefits online when:

  • You are totally unemployed,
  • You are partially unemployed (your weekly earnings are reduced), or
  • You expect to be laid off within the next 13 weeks and would like to start your benefit year early.

All claims based on work done in Wisconsin are filed through Wisconsin, even if you now live in another state.

Important: To avoid any loss of benefits, apply the first week you are unemployed. Do not wait until the week is over. Wisconsin has a waiting week for unemployment benefits. For every new benefit year, no benefits are payable for the first week you would otherwise be eligible for benefits. However, a claim still must be filed to fulfill the waiting week requirement.

Applying for unemployment benefits is smoother and faster when you have essential information in-hand. The information you provide will be used to determine your eligibility for Unemployment Insurance benefits.

Please review this list of information to have ready to apply.

Steps to Apply Online

  1. Go to
  2. Read and accept Terms and Conditions
  3. Create a username and password
  4. Logon to access online benefit services
  5. Complete your application

Individuals applying for unemployment must do so using the name printed on their social security card and driver's license. If your social security card and driver's license are up to date with your current name you should not have any problems filing for and receiving unemployment benefits.

If you have received unemployment benefits in the past under a different name and wish to apply for benefits again, you must first change you name with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) and with the Social Security Administration (SSA) before applying for unemployment benefits.

Please understand that we must be able to confirm your identity with personally identifiable information such as your driver's license and social security card to approve your unemployment application.

The application process for military service veterans coming off active duty is the same as anyone applying for unemployment benefits. Your claim cannot start earlier than the week of your separation date, as it appears on your DD-214.

A request for your member copy 4 of the DD-214, for all active duty terms within the last 18 months, will be sent to you after you file.

Your claim may be delayed if you are unable to send in a copy of the DD-214 (acceptable copies are member copy 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8).

The worksheet and copy 1 cannot be used because they do not include the separation type or narrative reason of separation.

Additional resources are available from the Office of Veteran Employment Services.

Filing for unemployment benefits is a two step process:

  1. First, you must complete the initial claim application which leads to a computation of whether you monetarily qualify for benefits. NOTE: this alone does not send out payments.
  2. Second, you must file a weekly claim certification for each week you want an unemployment benefit payment.

    The weekly claim certification triggers the payment for each week. Always wait until after Saturday to file a weekly claim certification for the calendar week ending that Saturday

Requests for additional information have a due date:

  • In some circumstances, we may need additional information from you. Please respond to any requests for additional information by the due date stated on the request.

Have you been instructed to register with Wisconsin Job Service?

Actual payment is dependent upon approval:

  • Even if you have been paid enough wages from covered employment to qualify monetarily for benefits, actual payment will be dependent upon approval of all eligibility issues.

We will generally determine your entitlement within 7 days of filing your initial claim. If benefits are payable, they are usually paid within 7 days of completing your weekly claim.

Any time benefits are denied or suspended, we send you a determination explaining:

  • why
  • for what time period
  • how to requalify
  • how to appeal if you disagree

If you have met the requalifying requirements, and have stopped filing weekly claim certifications and are again unemployed or working reduced hours, you must reactivate your claim.

A review of your claim will be done to establish that you have met the requalifying requirements. You may be sent requests for information to establish that you have met the requalifying requirements. Complete the requests and return by the due date.

If you have questions regarding your requalifying requirements, contact a claims specialist.

No unemployment benefits will be paid to you until you register.

You must be fully registered with Wisconsin Job Service within 14 days offiling your initial claim. Failure to fully register by the deadline will resultin a suspension of benefits until the registration is complete.

For more information see the Frequently Asked Questions About Registering for Work with Wisconsin Job Service.

Nothing. You do not need to take any action; just stop filing.