Wisconsin provides unemployment benefits to workers who lose their jobs. Unemployed residents of the state can receive benefits for up to 86 weeks if they meet certain criteria during a period of high unemployment, but the basic state program provides unemployment insurance for up to 26 weeks.

Benefit Length

The duration of unemployment benefits is determined in part by the state's unemployment rate. When the three-month average rate moves above 8 percent, the maximum duration of unemployment benefits can be up to 93 weeks, though the extensions are dependent on actions by the United States Congress and may not always be available. The state's unemployment insurance program provides up to 26 weeks of standard benefits.

Regular Unemployment Insurance

The state's regular unemployment insurance runs for 26 weeks, or half of a year. If a person exhausts those benefits and still has not found new employment, it may be possible for him to move through a variety of federal and state programs to obtain additional assistance.

Extended Unemployment Compensation

After residents exhaust regular state benefits they may be eligible for extended unemployment compensation (EUC). This federally funded program has three tiers. Tier One runs for 20 weeks, Tier Two for 14 weeks and Tier Three for 13 weeks. The tiers each carry the same benefit level, but are open to unemployed people only at certain times. The plan must be approved and extended periodically by the U.S. Congress. If the EUC program is not extended, then participants can continue their current tier (i.e. to the end of 20 weeks if in Tier One) but not move into the next tier. This system allows a way to gradually phase extended benefits in or out of the state's system.

Federal-state Extended Benefits

If a resident is still unemployed after exhausting extended unemployment compensation, a final option could be federal-state extended benefits. This program provides another 13 weeks on unemployment assistance and is the final tier for unemployed residents of the state. As with other unemployment programs receiving federal assistance, it is subject to Congressional review and may not always be available, depending on actions taken by the Congress.

Benefits Progression

Each new program can only begin for a resident after she has exhausted prior programs. This means receiving 26 weeks of regular unemployment insurance before receiving EUC. It then means receiving 47 weeks of EUC, through the three tiers listed above, before receiving any of the 13 weeks of federal-state extended benefits. If all programs are completed to the full extent, a Wisconsin resident can receive 86 weeks of unemployment coverage.

However, the EUC program is run by the federal government and can be allowed to expire. If the program does not receive extensions or new funding a resident can finish the current tier but not move to the next tier. The federal government could also choose to close the EUC program entirely, which would leave residents able to earn 26 weeks of unemployment insurance.