Many people are newly or temporarily unemployed. If you have had your hours reduced at work or if you are out of work, you may qualify for Unemployment Insurance.

“People shouldn’t assume that they are not eligible,” said Rhonda Suda, chief executive officer of the Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board.

She advises: “Go through the process.”

Federal law gave states flexibility to amend their laws to provide Unemployment Insurance benefits in multiple scenarios related to COVID-19.

“We don’t know in the end how much emergency unemployment would come from the federal government,” Suda said. “We don’t know how the eligibility would change. This is kind of new territory for everybody.”

If workers have been laid off because of COVID-19, or if they were laid off before and unemployment benefits have run out, she tells them to apply for benefits.

If you went down in hours, she said, “There’s definitely the possibility that you might be eligible for a portion of unemployment.”

Whether or not someone qualifies, she said is a decision made at the state level (by Department of Workforce Development).

To file for Unemployment Insurance visit https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/ .

DWD website has the following message on its website:

“DWD is experiencing an unprecedented call volume to our unemployment insurance and IT help lines. Unless you have received official notification from Unemployment Insurance that you must call our call center, please search for your answer at dwd.wi.gov/covid19/ or dwd.wi.gov/uiben/faqs in order to free up phone lines for folks who are required to call in.

“If you are out of work or on reduced hours due to COVID-19, we encourage you to submit an Unemployment Insurance claim. Overwhelmingly, 98% of applicants can submit with ease online at dwd.wi.gov/uiben.”

Applying for unemployment benefits is a two-step process:

1. Apply online the week you become unemployed.

2. File a weekly claim for each week you would like to receive benefits.

When you go through those steps, Suda said: “Be patient.”

Be careful and accurate when answering questions, she advised.

“Make sure you get the name of your prior employer correct, as well as all of your personal information (name, email, phone, address),” she said.

Those displaced from employment due to COVID-19 are not required to look for work to receive unemployment benefits.

A DWD news release says unemployment and job search services continue to be available online and by phone. Job Centers across Wisconsin closed March 25 to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and to follow the governor’s “Safer at Home” order.

Suda reminds that specific questions about claims are answered by DWD, not job centers.

Lastly, she said, “If you receive correspondence in the mail, make sure you read it and follow those directions.”

Looking forward, Suda is optimistic: “Before this happened, we had an extremely strong economy and we know that our businesses were still aggressively looking for people. I think that after this is done, that same situation is going to be there. Employers are still going to need people to work for them, more than what they have right now and more than what they had a month ago.”

More information can be found at:

Unemployment related to COVID-19

https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/covid19/public/ui.htm

DWD YouTube videos:

How to create a user name and password

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q--sPE1aazU

How to file for benefits

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mS_gZ3IVhzQ

How to file a weekly claim

https://www.youtube.com/.watch?v=AjzSWEoF37w&t=41s

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