How to Apply for Unemployment in Michigan

by Kailey Hagen | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on March 26, 2020

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The Michigan state flag fluttering in front of a domed building.

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Unemployment benefits can help you and your family get through these next tough months.

Unemployment benefits can help you and your family get through these next tough months.

Michigan has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and like many other states, it's requiring its residents to remain home over the coming weeks to help slow the spread. But this poses a problem for the thousands of Michigan residents who are now out of work and concerned about their financial security as well as their health. 

Here's a brief guide to help you understand how Michigan unemployment benefits work and how you can apply for them.

Do I qualify for unemployment benefits?

If you have lost your job or had your hours reduced because of COVID-19, you may be able to get financial help. Whether you or a family member are sick or in quarantine, or your company has shut down or slowed down because of the virus, if you do not qualify for sick leave or paid time off, you may be eligible for benefits.

All Michigan residents interested in claiming unemployment benefits must typically be out of work due to no fault of their own, be actively seeking work, and have past earnings that meet certain thresholds.

However, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has suspended the work search requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic due to public health concerns. But the past earnings requirement still stands.

Like many states, Michigan uses a base period to determine you qualify for benefits based on your past income. This is typically the first four of the last five completed quarters before you applied. So if you apply in March, your base period would be from October 2018 to September 2019, but if you apply in April, it's your January 2019 to December 2019 earnings that count. If you're not eligible for benefits based on this base period, you may be able to use an alternate base period, which looks at your income during the four most recently completed quarters.

You must have earned wages in at least two of the four quarters in your base period and you must have earned at least $3,589 in one quarter. You must also have earned at least 1.5 times your highest-earning quarter amount during your total base period. For example, if you earned $4,000 in your high quarter, you must have earned at least $6,000 in your base period.

Those who don't meet the wage tests in either the standard base period or the alternate base period can still qualify for unemployment benefits if they meet the following requirements:

  • You've earned wages in at least two quarters in your base period.
  • In your highest-earning quarter, your wages were at least 20 times the state average weekly wage (currently $1,037.10).

How do I apply for unemployment benefits?

You can apply for unemployment benefits on the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity website. Have the following information to hand:

  • Your Social Security number or alien registration number
  • Your state-issued driver's license or ID card number
  • Your employment history for the past 18 months, including employer name, address, dates of employment, and quarterly gross earnings
  • Your most recent employer's federal employer ID number and employer account number, if possible
  • Bank account information for direct deposit

Once you've set up your account, you must log in every other week to request payment. You can also call the Michigan unemployment insurance agency.

How much money will I receive in unemployment benefits?

The most you'll get in Michigan unemployment benefits is $362 per week. You can calculate your weekly benefit amount (WBA) by taking your earnings during the highest-earning quarter in your base period and multiplying it by 4.1%.

If you've provided at least 50% of the financial support for family members over the last 90 days, you can also get an extra $6 per month for up to a maximum of five dependents.

How long can I collect unemployment benefits?

Normally, you can claim unemployment benefits for up to a maximum of 20 weeks, but this has been extended for any claims filed between March 3 and April 18. Everyone is eligible for a minimum of 14 weeks of unemployment, unless they find new employment.

Keep in mind that the CARES Act extends your benefit period by an additional 13 weeks.

What if my unemployment claim is denied?

You can protest an unemployment claim denial within 30 days from the mail date on the Monetary Determination form you’ll receive after applying. The form will also contain information on how to file your protest and begin the Redetermination process.

The next few months may not be easy, but unemployment benefits can make them a little easier. Consider signing up for benefits if you qualify. 

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