Wisconsin (WI) Unemployment Insurance Benefits Help And Enhanced UI Programs – PUA, $300 LWA, PEUC, $600 FPUC – News and Updates

As the unemployment rate skyrocketed due to COVID-19 pandemic, the state of Wisconsin quickly fell behind in processing new claims. Excessively high call volume and technical glitches plagued Wisconsin’s unemployment insurance programs early on. The inability to speak with an agent, coupled with slow processing times and delays in retroactive payments frustrated claimants. Over time, Wisconsin has increased the number of claims processed and unemployment funds paid out.

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) is the state agency tasked with a variety of job-related functions including workforce development, job services, employee training, processing unemployment insurance claims, and protecting and enforcing worker’s rights. The Unemployment Insurance Division of the DWD over oversees the unemployment insurance program for the state. See further details below on the newly enhanced benefits available now and how to file a claim.

Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) Program – Payments Now Being Disbursed

Wisconsin has been approved by FEMA for the $300 weekly payment under the LWA program, which provides supplemental payments to eligible unemployment benefits claimants who have been unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. A maximum of 6 weeks of funding was approved by FEMA for all states. DWD took much longer than other states to update systems for processing LWA payments, but unemployed workers should start seeing LWA funds around October 22nd 2020. Processing started earlier in the week, but payments took a few days to hit bank accounts and UI debit cards. LWA benefits will be paid retroactively for those determined eligible according to the following schedule:

Payments from the LWA program will be made retroactively for a maximum of six weeks covering the weeks ending August 1, August 8, August 15, August 22, August 29, and September 5, 2020. Benefits will be back paid in one lump sum ($1800) or via multiple payments depending on the amount the recipient is eligible for. DWD estimates up to 220,000 claimants may be eligible for LWA.

While there is no new application for LWA, claimants must self-certify that they were unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. (Those who qualify for PUA are presumed to have met the self-certification requirements.). Claimants eligible for LWA will automatically receive LWA funds in addition to their weekly benefit amount. If you self certify and incorrectly answer the question around being impacted by COVID, you need to contact a claims specialist at (414) 435-7069 or toll-free (844) 910-3661 and ask them to change your answer.

The new LWA payment would be in addition to Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) payments currently available to unemployed Wisconsin workers. The state’s maximum weekly unemployment benefit is $370. When combined with the new program, the maximum possible benefit in Wisconsin will be $670 per week, before tax withholding, and will be retroactive to week ending August 1, 2020. See more details on the states LWA page.

The new Lost Wages program however does cut the federal benefit ($600 FPUC) in half since the state cannot afford to boost the benefit by the additional $100 state contribution requested by Trump.

COVID 19 Enhanced Benefits in Wisconsin

Under the CARES act, there are three types of federal unemployment assistance available:

• Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): expands eligibility for individuals who are typically ineligible for Unemployment benefits, including independent contractors, self-employed, and “gig” workers.  Recipients may receive up to 39 weeks of benefits under this program.

• Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC): adds $600 per week in addition to the regular benefits that recipients of Unemployment Insurance are entitled to receive; benefit is retroactive to the week ending April 4, 2020 and the program expired on July 25, 2020. This program has now expired, unless Congress extends it further.

In connection with the executive order from President Trump extending the time period for the program at a reduced $400 per week rate, the “DWD is awaiting clarification and guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor regarding how states may implement President Trump’s executive order restoring additional UI payments for lost wages. The new payments are not available at this time.

• Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC): provides an additional 13 weeks of Unemployment benefits to recipients of regular unemployment insurance.

The continued rise in the state’s unemployment rate caused Wisconsin to trigger 13 weeks of extended state benefits to those who have exhausted all other state and federal unemployment aid without returning to work permanently.  The Extended Benefit (EB) program was effective May 17, 2020 and applies to unemployed individuals who have exhausted regular unemployment and PEUC benefits, whichever is later.

Web and/or phone issues with accessing the Wisconsin Unemployment system

Unemployment claims have drastically increased due to the coronavirus. The DWD reported receiving over 1.5 million calls during the week of March 22, 2020.  Due to the lack of personnel and record levels of demand, the DWD strongly encourages filing claims online.

Existing Claimants: Claimants receiving unemployment benefits due to the coronavirus emergency must continue to certify weekly to receive the additional FPUC $600/week benefit. The additional $600/week compensation is retroactive to the week ending April 4 and ends on July 25. FPUC payments are automatically added to your weekly benefit payment. The DWD began issuing FPUC payments on April 26. Upon exhausting regular and PEUC benefits, eligible claimants must apply for the EB program. Existing claimants should track their current balance online to determine when to apply for EB.

In July, the DWD reported that they had increased their workforce by over 1,000 employees.  While this has expanded their ability to increase call center hours, answer incoming calls, and process more claims, 13% of the approximate 4 million weekly claims filed since March 15 were still undergoing eligibility analysis.   

Filing a Claim

If you are filing a claim for the first time, you can create a new account here on the DWD website. Once you have created a username and password, log on to access online benefit services to complete your application. Existing claimants can log in here to file their weekly claim. You can check the status of your claim here.

To receive unemployment benefits, you must certify for benefits for each week that you are claiming. You must certify within 14 days (about 2 weeks) of the end of the calendar week that you are claiming. The calendar week runs from Sunday to Saturday. You may only file a claim after the work week has ended. If you do not certify for benefits within 14 days (about 2 weeks) of the end of the calendar week, you will not be able to file online and must reactive your claim. When certifying your claim, you must do this online and be physically located in the United States, a US Territory, or Canada. Failure to certify your benefits properly may result in the denial of your unemployment benefit.

If there is a problem with your claim that must be resolved before benefits can be paid, or if you have been denied benefits and are appealing the determination, you must still certify for and claim your benefits. If it is determined that you are eligible or if you win your appeal, you will be paid these benefits retroactively. However, if you have not claimed benefits and you win your appeal, you will not be paid for these weeks.

If you are unable to file your unemployment claim online or need help with online services, call (414) 435-7069 or toll-free (844) 910-3661 (Monday – Friday 6:15 AM – 5:30; Saturday 7:00 AM – 1:30 PM

To apply online for Unemployment Insurance benefits (recommended), you must have:

  • Worked in Wisconsin in the last 18 months
  • Worked for a covered employer that paid in UI

You can also apply by phone.

If applying online, you will need the following information:

  • Valid email address or cellphone number
  • Social Security Number
  • Wisconsin driver’s license or identification number.
  • Work history for the last 18 months including;
    • Employers’ business names
    • Employers’ addresses with zip codes
    • Employers’ phone number
    • First and last date that you worked for each employer
    • Reason you are no longer working for each employer
  • Your current mailing address. Be sure to notify the post office of any address changes so that you do not miss vital information about your claim.

I filed my unemployment claim several weeks ago. Will I receive back pay once my claim is approved?

The DWD is still working through unemployment claims filed under the programs enacted by the Cares Act.  The large volume of claims has slowed down the approval process. The FPUC $600 per week additional benefit expired during the week of July 25. If you have filed an unemployment claim prior to that date and are still awaiting a response regarding your eligibility for unemployment, you will receive any back weeks of FPUC even if the decision is not made until after the July 25 expiration date.  Claimants who are not eligible for regular unemployment may be able to collect benefits under the PUA program.  Before you can file weekly claims under the PUA, your eligibility must be determined.  If you are eligible to participate, the DWD will instruct you as to how to file weekly claims.  If you were eligible for PUA benefits for weeks that have already passed, you will be able to file weekly claims and recover back pay due to you.

Can I collect unemployment benefits if my employer cut my hours?

According to the DWD, individuals who are partially unemployed due to a reduction of hours may be able to collect unemployment benefits.  Recipients must work less than a combined 32 hours per week for all employers and earn less than $500 may be eligible to collect unemployment benefits.

See additional FAQ from the Wisconsin Division of Workforce Development about unemployment benefits.

This article was updated on October 22

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33 thoughts on “Wisconsin (WI) Unemployment Insurance Benefits Help And Enhanced UI Programs – PUA, $300 LWA, PEUC, $600 FPUC – News and Updates

  1. Has anyone else not received the LWA payment in Wisconsin yet? This is getting frustrating. If they started making payments on October 22nd, I would think in almost 2 weeks all payments should be out.

  2. I see someone asked a similar question, but I was hoping for some clarity.
    I was on unemployment due to layoffs at work. I started backed up a couple of weeks ago so am no longer on unemployment/no longer filing.
    Since I was filing for all of the weeks eligible for the LWA, will I still be getting the assistance. Or since I am now employed am I no longer eligible?

    1. You would be eligible for those weeks (Aug 1 to Sep 5) – but you will need to reopen your claim and ensure you certified/verified for LWA payments via the website. See article for details.

    2. I also filed all the weeks they are approved for and am also receiving pua. I called them yesterday and all they would say is that all LWA payments were scheduled to be paid by October 31st. Well it’s the 3pth and last day of the week and I still have no change in my dashboard about lwa. I’m at a point of just not trying. I waited from april until the end of August to even recieve my initial unemployment. Wisconsin is a joke. Biggest mistake they mad was not finishing their overhaul of their system.

  3. Does anyone know if you were unemployed for all or some of the weeks listed for the LWA but have recently started working, will you receive the retro-pay for the weeks you were unemployed?

    1. Wisconsin started making LWA payments and hitting accounts today. DWD has said delays were due to complex programming needed to their existing systems (yet other states able to get it out much faster!). Payments will be made over the next few days and should all be disbursed by next week. Article updated

      The max is 6 weeks and you need to meet LWA eligibility criteria for each of the weeks to get the maximum $1800 payment or you will just $300 p/week you were eligible. Yes all retro now since last date of the program was Sep 5th.

      1. Thank you Andy! I live in Wisconsin and I did receive my LWA payments tonight. I noticed on my unemployment page. There also was a message about the six weeks being payed and eligibility requirements. So Wisconsin is finally paying out!

        1. Hi Lisa, I live in Wisconsin and am still waiting for my lwa payment. I was wondering what the letter is to your last name cause I read that they may be distributing them by last name and mine starts with S. I just checked again and still haven’t received it. If you could let give me any info on it I would greatly appreciate it, Thanks

  4. So what the heck is the new collaboration with google cloud and DWD? is that what they have been working on instead of “programming the system” for LWA payments for us wisconsin people that are out of work and have no money and need that extra money for rent and little things like food lol I read their press release and i know i dont understand all the wording but sounds like they are going to get info from google on people that apply. Is that true? Is our privacy policy thru google going to be compromised? Since they have that done Maybe now they can work on the LWA payments…..

  5. If Wisconsin won’t finish. Programming until the end of October, wouldn’t this actually mean that Wisconsinites won’t actually get the $300 LWA payment until November?????

  6. 14 weeks and waiting! Not just for the $300…for ANY benefit! I FINALLY have an appt. for a call back today at 2pm BUT every time I have talked to anyone there I’ve been told that I “just have to wait”, that they are behind for everyone. I am no longer hopeful at this point.

    1. Can u please update this….like someone eles said wisconsin is the only state without any date..wy? Wy is wisconsin always last to do everything…our govener dragged his feet on applying for this knowing we needed this…i have a family of 4 to feed …we were doing great till u closed my work down for this PLANdemic…please help the people of Wisconsin for once

      1. Article/dates updated. Wisconsin started making LWA payments and hitting accounts today for many eligible recipients. DWD has said delays were due to complex programming needed to their existing systems (yet other states able to get it out much faster!). Payments will be made over the next few days and should all be disbursed by next week.

  7. Everybody upset it might take until the end of October to recieve the extra $300, meanwhile im here, a single mom doing everything she can to hardly get buy waiting on receiving my INITIAL unemployment claim for nearly 14 weeks. Can’t make it with the extra $300? Try getting by without almost 14 weeks of pay. They need to get the INITIAL claims out before the extra goes out.. at least those waiting for the boost are getting something well some us aren’t getting anything besides collection calls, eviction notices, and hungry cause we haven’t received anything. I lost my home, im gonna lose my car, I can’t afford to pay child care so I can go back to work, I need to get food and clothes for my son and I have no way of doing so. Something has to give right now cause some of us can’t continue to lose it all. Id rather have a little money for my bills and such than nothing at all.

    1. Really sorry to hear your story Megan. Please call your state UI agency (you may have to try several times) to get someone. Also you should contact local churches and aid agencies to see if they can help you as well. Google “aid options near me” to see what is locally available. If you don’t get help, leave a comment here and I can try and help a little.

    2. First I want to apologize for what you are going through no one should have been put in the position to lose everything they have worked hard for. And struggling like this is so beyond unfair. Myself if it weren’t for my tax refund I would have been in position it took almost two and half months to receive unemployment. My payments kept saying pending for weeks on end. If you payments say pending on your dashboard call the collections for unemployment 608-266-9701 and also email these people email taxnet@dwd.wisconsin.gov whoever these people are they are awesome. I called the collections number I was unemployed years and years ago so I went by any chance was I over paid or something cause my payments have been pending I have sent all my paperwork I want to know what’s going on no one is helping me here and I know no one within unemployment is going to pay my bills. The lady looked into my account and says no but I am not understanding why your payments haven’t been released it was simply her hitting button she apologized to whoever didn’t finish my claim and I had it in two days. Emailing them also helped they did get back to me a day later but looked into my account called me and told me payment was on the way. That they were confused also why it wasn’t released a month before that. It’s worth the shot if the payments are pending. Figured I would share my experience if anything maybe it would help in someway. I am so sorry you are going through this I truly am.

    3. I know how you feel Megan. I waited from feb till the 3rd week in July . I got a eviction notice prior to that . I tried to explain to the courts I even applied for the $3400 rent help with proper paperwork But My landlord did not cooperate with me ! I was tossed out in the streets . Then Trump stopped evictions but it was to late for me . The unemployment payment came it came all at once which was great but the money was supposed to help me get on my feet not find a new house moving storage & then find a place with a eviction not easy those unemployment funds ! I think got wasted . So I feel your pain please try and wait it out but do what you can on your rent . I’d hate to see a single mom be in my situation on Jan 1st when the evictions start again. The only nice thing is they will and do pay you all at once for the weeks you are waiting so you will receive a huge amount ! Hang in there I don’t wish your situation on anyone ! Keep your head up Megan the sad thing is all you can do is starve , be broke & wait for that big check . I hope you get it in the next few weeks ! Wish for the best n expect the worse they take forever . I was not prepared fir the worst I thought I was in IT !!!!!!! G luck !

  8. Yeah i agree what the heck is taking wisconsin so flipping long 8 weeks that is a lifetime to those of us out of work and have no money! Tony evers has dragged his feet on this whole process! Waiting 3 weeks to even apply when he KNOWS we have a “supposably” outdated computer system! Why would u wait 3 weeks to even apply if u know its gonna take forever to reprogramming the system!! He (tony evers) has dropped the ball on this for all wisconsinites! This is appalling that we are the LAST state to recieve this benifit and 3 weeks after everyone else has stated getting it!(if its end of october) how is it they were able to reprogram faster for the 600? Maybe they should hire off the street coders and programmers they would have it done already!!

    1. Misty, I’m not happy about that either. I appreciate him getting rid of the waiting week and the job search though, but yeah waiting this long for the 300 is too long! We should get 400 for the long wait!

    2. Don’t blame Evers, blame the obsolete computer systems that Walker failed to update. If Walker was still governor, you wouldn’t see any state assistance.

      1. It isn’t obsolete. they are just saying that. I used to live in Mississippi. They are at least 20 years behind in technology. They had their people paid first week of sept. I have heard from multiple programmers that it shouldn’t take more than a few days. A week at most.

      2. None of the aid we received was from the state Evers won’t allow it he waited to long to apply for the federal aid we got . I don’t by that they couldn’t send it faster there system was upgraded . That’s how we got the extra $600 from the cares act ! All they would have to do is use the same system! Evers should have applied ASAP democratic or republicans politics . Should not have played a roll . He said he didn’t agree where the funds came from which was FEMA . Arizona applied the same week that the executive order came out That state use the same system and get their checks out within a week if he knew the computers were going to take this long to upgrade he should’ve took the funds immediately that’s just my opinion though I don’t think either parties are doing well We have our interest in mind or what’s right for the public. Hope everyone has a great day and things will get better soon

    3. Agree 100% he waited to long to ask for those FEMA funds because he is politically motivated. He does not care about us fighting to pay rent get food ETC . I lost the roof over my head in august then bam my Cliam was approved instead of rebuilding my life I had to use it to pay storage move & try and find a place to stay that excepts evictions ! He forgot about us little guys there was nothing I could do but try & move forward & wait again for this 300 which should be 400 a week . Evers said Wisconsin can’t afford the extra $100 but yet everyone needs it bad the collect so much when the economy is good ! He should dig deep n find that $100 bucks n defund one of his ideas we won’t use ! Sorry I was rambling that hits home !! Good luck n have a great day !!

  9. Yes, why is it Tony Evers waited 3 damn weeks before even applying? I Mean he bypasses blame on his self. And Wisconsin residents are hungry, homeless and broke. This includes myself Why do we always have the most outdate shit in our State? I Mean let’s just tell it like it is at least for me and my family. NONE and I mean Not a damn one that I can think of gives 2 shits about any of us Americans that make this state and country run!!!! Not Tony Evers, Congrests, Democrats or Republicans. It is so sad to realize that the only time these morons do anything even emotely to assist us or rush to get us what we need and are owed is only when their pocket books are affected. I Wonder if Tony Evers was relying on these benefits or the Dwd heads would it still be 8 weeks then or would they move their asses just a little quicker???? Hmmm…,… SMH CAN WE GET SOME RELIEF?

  10. Wy is wisconsin taking the longest…8 weeks is a little rediculess…almost all other states have already started paying..i don’t understand wy Wisconsin is last to do anything…my family needs this money

    1. When are we supposed to be getting the extra 300?? Wisconsin is taking a long time!! On there website it doesn’t say updating until end of October anymore!!

  11. Why is it taking 8 weeks, when other states have already started to disburst the extra $300? Since the dates keeps charging, which dates are correct? The rep i spoke to started that they will be released before then… What is the truth?

  12. i have been reading that the Wisconsin DWD states we wont see any payments for the LWA unti end of OCTOBER!!! what!!! I noticed this article is saying end of September….who is right? my family needs this extra income so bad! Im so tired of this system not helping the people who really need it the most!

    1. You can go to the official DWD site (link in article) and confirm their statement – “Programming for LWA is expected to be completed by the end of October 2020. Benefits will be paid retroactively for those determined eligible.”

      Unfortunately Wisconsin looks like it will be one of, if not the last state to play out LWA benefits.

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