Part 6: Eligibility Issues
What is an Eligibility Issue?
An eligibility issue is any information or set of circumstances which raises a legal question about whether you should be paid unemployment benefits, and which can deny, suspend or reduce your benefits under the Unemployment Insurance law. The department must investigate all relevant eligibility issues which apply to your claim before paying unemployment benefits.
We must hold your payments while we are investigating eligibility issues on your claim. However, while we are conducting the investigation, it is important that you continue to file your weekly claim certifications.
If you are told to call a claims specialist about a potential eligibility issue, call immediately. If you do not call, you may lose benefits.
You and your employer will be given the opportunity to present facts before a determination is made. If you fail to contact or provide information to the department when directed, or miss a scheduled interview, a determination will be made using the facts available and you could lose benefits.
After the investigation of an eligibility issue is completed, you are notified of the determination in writing.
If either you or your employer appeal a determination, CONTINUE TO FILE your weekly claim certifications each week you are unemployed or are earning less than your maximum earnings amount. Any future decision in your favor will only qualify you for benefits for weeks which have been claimed.
Even if you have been paid enough wages from covered employment to qualify for unemployment benefits, you will not receive benefits if you:
- quit a job without good cause. UI law suspends your benefits until you earn
6 times your WBR.
- are fired for misconduct. UI law removes that employer's base period wages
from the calculation of your MBA and also suspends your benefits for 7 weeks and
until you earn 14 times your WBR.
- are fired for substantial fault. UI law suspends your benefits for 7 weeks and until you earn 14 times your WBR.
- refuse work without good cause. UI law suspends your benefits
until you earn 6 times your WBR.
- fail to make an acceptable work search for any
week that one is required.
- are working and claiming benefits and do not do
all the work available during a week. UI law adds the income you could have
earned to what you did earn to calculate your benefits due. If you miss more
than 16 hours in a week no benefits are payable for that week.
- worked or could have worked a total of 32 or more hours and/or receive/will receive holiday, vacation, dismissal/termination or sick pay for 32 or more hours for all employers in a week you are claiming.
- are not able to work or available for work in a week. The department must investigate any circumstance that restricts your ability or availability for work. Examples include, but are not limited to, the hours you can work, the type of work you can perform and the distance you can travel. Even if you are working you may be disqualified if you are not available for full-time (32 hours or more per week) work.
- are located in a country other than the United States or Canada for more than 48 hours.
Important: Do not attempt to certify for benefits while you are outside of the United States, a U.S. Territory, or Canada for any reason. Your certification will be blocked and your benefits will be held. Certifying that you are ready, willing, and able to work while you are out of the country or giving your security credentials and/or SSN to another person to certify on your behalf may lead to severe penalties. These penalties can include overpayment, loss of benefits, monetary penalties, criminal prosecution and prison.
- are unemployed because of a strike or other labor dispute, other than a
lockout. Employees who are not participating in the labor dispute, but become
unemployed because of it, may also be ineligible. If you work in covered
employment after the start of the strike and you have qualifying wages for a
claim based on that employment alone, you may be eligible for benefits while the
strike is in progress.
- work for a school only during the normal school year. You are ineligible for
benefits based on school year employment during school vacation periods and
between academic terms or years if you have reasonable assurance of returning to
similar work after the vacation or at the start of the next term or year. We can
pay benefits during these periods from other employers only if you have
qualifying wages for a claim based on employment from the other employers alone.
- are receiving Social Security Disability (SSDI) payments. You cannot receive SSDI payments and
unemployment benefits concurrently. If you are receiving SSDI you must report this information on your
initial claim and
weekly claim certifications.
- are paid by a family corporation, owned or controlled by you or your
immediate family in your base period. Your MBA may be
reduced. When we calculate your MBA, the wages used from the family corporation
employer cannot exceed 10 times the WBR from that
employer. This may also apply to a partnership, depending on your relationship
to the partners.
- work in excluded employment. Excluded employment is work which is not covered under Wisconsin's UI law. You cannot be paid unemployment benefits based on that work. Some examples of excluded employment include:
- Work for an educational institution while a student there.
- Work as a real estate or insurance salesperson if paid only by commission.
Filing for Unemployment Benefits While a Student
You must tell us if you are a student while you file claims for unemployment benefits. An investigation will be conducted to decide whether you are available for work. You may not have to be available for work while attending school if you are enrolled in a course of study that is considered "approved training."
An employing unit may submit to the department information that an individual has either tested positive or refused to submit to a test for the presence of controlled substances as a conditional offer of employment.
If it is determined that you declined to take a drug test or tested positive for a drug screen and the offer was rescinded, the department will presume that you refused suitable work without good cause and benefits will be denied. You may rebut the presumption that you refused suitable work without good cause by, among other things, proving that the work was substantially less favorable to you.
If you do not rebut the presumption, you are ineligible as of the week the job was to begin and until you earn wages in covered employment after the week of the refusal equal to at least 6 times the WBR that would have been paid had you not been disqualified. Once you requalify, you are again eligible to receive benefits.
If you fail a pre-employment drug test you may remain eligible for benefits if you enroll in and comply with a drug treatment program, complete a job skills assessment, and otherwise meet all program requirements. You will be mailed a letter and a list of treatment providers. You must enroll within 7 days of the date the letter is mailed. You will be required to comply on a weekly basis to maintain eligibility. If no space is available at the time you attempt to enroll, you must certify weekly of an intent to attend treatment when it becomes available and must attend once space does become available. The department will pay the reasonable cost of treatment while you maintain eligibility for unemployment benefits.
Retirement Pay Reduction
You must tell us if you have applied for or are receiving any type of retirement payment. Retirement payments include periodic (such as monthly) and lump sum payments from retirement plans, pensions, annuities, 401(k)’s, 403(b)’s, 457(b)’s, as well as Railroad Retirement Benefits. Social Security Benefits are not treated as a retirement payment.
If all or part of your retirement payment was funded by one of your base period employers, your weekly unemployment benefit payments must be reduced.
If you receive periodic retirement payments (such as monthly) from a base period employer, a weekly reduction amount is computed based only on the part of the payment that was funded by the employer. The weekly reduction amount for persons receiving Railroad Retirement Benefits is based on 50% of the payment.
If you receive a lump sum retirement payment from a base period employer, your unemployment benefit payment will be reduced in the week the pension payment is received based only on the part of the payment that was funded by the employer.
If you roll the payment into another retirement system within 60 days of receiving it your unemployment payments will not be reduced unless you receive payments after the rollover. You must tell us if you have applied for or are receiving payments from the other retirement account after the rollover.
A voluntary retirement may be considered a quit and you may be disqualified even if you’re not receiving a retirement payment.
Verifying Employment Eligibility
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-603) requires all employers to verify employment eligibility of new employees. When an employer hires you, the employer will require that you show certain documents to prove your identity and your employment eligibility. If you are unable to present the documents to your employer within the time frame set by law, your employer must end your employment. Your failure to present the documents to your employer or to this department may affect your eligibility for unemployment benefits.
Updated: May 31, 2018