Changes to Wisconsin Unemployment Benefits
Through the CARES Act, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) has allowed significant flexibility for states to expand their unemployment insurance benefits in response to COVID-19. Over the past few weeks, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has been working to implement these changes in their online system.

This message will provide you with information about the expanded programs. We are grateful to C aleb Frostman, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, for helping us to better understand many of these programs as the details have unfolded.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
PUA expands the scope of unemployment benefits to individuals who would normally not be eligible. Broadly, this expanded definition includes those who are self-employed, certain independent contractors, and other newly eligible groups .

Because these groups are not traditionally covered under unemployment benefits, the Wisconsin DWD has been working to expand their application system and will begin accepting applications for newly eligible groups the week of April 21, 2020. They ask that you do not apply before that time.

The benefit amount under PUA is 1% of your 2019 net income, with a minimum weekly benefit amount of $163 and a maximum weekly benefit amount of $370. You can receive PUA benefits up to 39 weeks:
  • First Payable Week: Retroactive to week ending February 8, 2020 (or the first week an individual is out of work due to COVID-19, whichever is later)
  • Last Payable Week: Week ending December 26, 2020

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)
Colloquially referred to in the news as "the extra $600 per week," FPUC is designed to be a temporary emergency increase in unemployment benefits. This $600 amount is in addition to any other unemployment benefits you may be eligible to receive and does not impact your income eligibility, as it is not considered income. This benefit may also be available to employees who have reduced hours/income in addition to those who are fully unemployed.

Timing and duration:
  • Wisconsin will begin making payments the week of April 26, 2020
  • Payments are retroactive to week ending April 4, 2020
  • Last Payable Week: Week ending July 25, 2020

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
PEUC is designed to support individuals who remain unemployed after exhausting regular unemployment benefits. PEUC provides these individuals with up to an additional 13 weeks of payments. Individuals receiving PEUC cannot also receive PUA; however, they can receive the additional $600/week emergency support.

Timing and duration:
  • Payments are retroactive to week ending April 4, 2020 OR when the individual exhausts regular UI (whichever is later)
  • Last payable week: Week ending December 26, 2020

Additional Notes About Wisconsin Unemployment Benefits
  • Governor Tony Evers released draft legislation that would repeal the one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits; however, this has not yet been voted on by the legislature.
  • Because of the issuance of Governor Evers' Emergency Order, claimants are not required to search for work during the declared emergency. However, registration with the Job Center of Wisconsin is a requirement of the Unemployment Insurance program.
  • Claimants whose employers have shut down - but who have not been told they are laid off - or implemented significantly reduced hours may still be eligible for unemployment benefits.
  • If you are looking for work, Job Centers Wisconsin has added a page for currently in-demand jobs.
The Wisconsin SBDC Network is a proud part of the  Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship  in the  University of Wisconsin System . It is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the  U.S. Small Business Administration.