Your Guide to Unemployment Benefits in Michigan

Michigan residents who have lost their job through no fault of their own can qualify for unemployment benefits. The State of Michigan provides this safety net in situations where workers have become unemployed due to a layoff, labor dispute, or being placed on mandatory leave of absence.

Michigan unemployment benefits and unemployment compensation are meant to provide a temporary source of income until you are able to find another job. This service is provided by the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA). All employers in the state pay unemployment taxes, which are then paid out weekly to workers who lose their jobs.

How Unemployment Works in Michigan

And How To Get Unemployment in Michigan

  1. It is important to apply for Michigan unemployment as soon as you lose your job so that your benefits can begin as soon as possible. You can file a Michigan unemployment application online, over the phone, or at a Michigan unemployment office.
  2. After you file for Michigan unemployment, expect a wait time of up to six weeks before a decision has been made. This time varies from person to person based on how they became unemployed.
  3. If you meet Michigan unemployment benefits eligibility, you will be approved for up to 20 weeks of unemployment compensation. The minimum amount you will recieve is $81, with a maximum of $362.
  4. The Michigan unemployment department requires all benefits recipients to file a weekly claim with MARVIN, the online reporting system. This is proof that you are searching for new work and is required to recieve your weekly benefits.
  5. If you have found a new job and are being paid, regardless of how quickly, your benefits will end. Or, after reaching 20 weeks, your benefits will expire. In most situations, the state will reject a Michigan unemployment extension request. 

Unemployment benefit terminology to know

Unemployment Base period (standard base period): The four completed calendar quarters where you earned wages. To be a completed quarter, you must have been employed and earning wages throughout the entire quarter. These quarters are used to determine your weekly benefit amount and the number of weeks you can receive unemployment benefits.

Quarter 1: January to MarchQuarter 2: April to June
Quarter 3: July to SeptemberQuarter 4: October to December

Alternate base period: If you do not qualify for unemployment benefits based on the standard base period, an alternate base period for unemployment will be considered. These are the four most recently completed quarters where you were employed and earned a paycheck.

Benefit year: A benefit year is the 52 weeks following the time you filed for unemployment. Benefit years vary from person to person based on when they applied for unemployment.

Family employment: Any job with an employer who you are related to, such as a family-owned corporation. If your last job was working for a business owned by your family, you may only receive limited unemployment payments or be unable to qualify based on specific rules.

MARVIN: Michigan’s Automated Response Voice Interactive Network. The MARVIN system allows you to check-in and verify that you are searching for work while receiving unemployment benefits.

Michigan unemployment benefits calculator: Calculate your Michigan unemployment benefits with the unemployment calculator.

Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA): The state agency in Michigan that manages unemployment benefits. 

Unemployment benefits extension or Unemployment compensation extension: Extended benefits for Michigan residents may be available depending on the level of employment state-wide.

Weekly benefit amount: The amount of money you will receive through Michigan unemployment insurance payments.

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What Michigan unemployment qualifications must I meet?

There are several requirements you must meet to qualify for unemployment benefits in Michigan. Because Michigan unemployment compensation is meant to be temporary relief after a job loss, you must meet the following qualifications:

  • You must be able to work
  • You must be available to work
  • You must be seeking full-time work or full-time employment

In addition, people applying for unemployment benefits must also:

  • Have been paid by your previous employer in two separate quarters
  • The amount you were paid in one quarter must be at least $3,298
  • The wages you received over four quarters must equal 1.5 times the highest payment you received in one quarter (at least $4,948).

If you’ve previously received unemployment benefits in Michigan within the last six calendar quarters, you must:

  • Have had a job after your last unemployment benefit year began
  • Been paid by an employer, and that amount must have been at least five times the weekly benefit amount that you received while unemployed

If you meet these requirements, you have a right to file for Michigan unemployment benefits. While you are likely to collect unemployment payments, it is possible to be rejected based on special employment circumstances (such as the time of job you previously had) or if an employer chooses to contest your application (which may occur if they say you chose to leave instead of being laid off or terminated).

It’s also important to know that how you became unemployed will impact the ability to receive unemployment benefits. In most cases, the UIA considers Michigan unemployment claims to fall into three categories: (1) quitting, (2) fired, or (3) laid off. 

Choosing to quit your job—that is, leaving voluntarily—may disqualify you from receiving benefits. Leaving because you simply did not like the workplace will cause your application to be rejected. But, quitting your job because of reasons out of your control—such as health problems or something your employer did—may allow you to still receive benefits.

If you were fired, the UIA will determine if you still qualify for benefits. If you lost your job because of misconduct at work (such as violating workplace rules or failing to show up regularly), you may not qualify for unemployment compensation. Being fired does not automatically disqualify you—you can still receive unemployment payments if you were fired for having poor job performance.

In situations where a labor dispute or lay off led to your termination, you will likely qualify for benefits.

Special circumstances that may impact your possible Michigan unemployment eligibility

Even if you meet all the requirements for unemployment benefits in Michigan, your application may be rejected based on your individual work situation. If you were self-employed, worked for a family business, or holding a political office, there are additional criterion that you must meet.

  • Seasonal or temporary workers: In most cases, temporary workers can qualify for unemployment benefits in Michigan as long as they meet the general unemployment benefits explained above and file a claim.
  • Self-employed: Self-employed workers do not qualify for unemployment benefits. This includes situations where you may be the sole owner of your business or have an LLC. This is because companies must pay unemployment taxes to the state government; if you believed that you made unemployment taxes (separate from self-employment taxes), you may have a right to file for benefits. To learn more about unemployment taxes, read our guide on benefit funds.
  •  Family business employee: Individuals who work for a family corporation are generally covered by unemployment benefits so long as the business is not a partnership or sole proprietorship. In cases where the unemployed person owns a part of the company, unemployment benefits will be limited to 7 ½ weeks. Employees who are minors and work for a business owned by their parents cannot receive unemployment benefits.  
  • Political official: Those who hold elected or appointed government offices do not qualify for unemployment benefits after leaving office.
  • Students: Students who complete work for a business or company for school credit are unable to collect unemployment benefits. Students who are employed by a school, but are “primarily students” are also unable to receive unemployment payments.
  • Religious organizations: Employees of religious organizations are generally unable to receive unemployment benefits. In some special scenarios, religious groups may volunteer to provide benefits to their former employees, but it is not mandated by the state.
  • Commission-based jobs: If your prior job was paid on a commission basis by a real estate broker, insurance company, or home remodeling company, you are ineligible. Any individual working as a salesperson with a commission-based paycheck does not qualify.
  • Educators and teachers: Staff at public and non-profit schools can receive unemployment benefits if they lose their job. But, educators and staff members cannot file for unemployment during school breaks or recesses if they are planning to return to their job when school resumes.
  • Pregnant workers: If your employer placed you on mandatory leave of absence due to pregnancy, you qualify for unemployment benefits. If you chose to voluntarily enter a leave of absence, you do not qualify.

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How do I apply for unemployment benefits in Michigan?

Michigan residents who have recently lost their job can apply for unemployment benefits online or through the Michigan unemployment phone number. It is important to file for benefits within the first week of losing your job.

  1. Apply for MI unemployment online: If you choose to submit your application digitally, you’ll need to use the MiWAM system—the Michigan Web Account Manager. This online portal will allow you to complete the application, submit all necessary proof, and takes about 45 minutes. You can access MiWAM by visiting MiWAM's main site.
  2. Applying for MI unemployment by phone: You can also file for unemployment benefits through the Michigan unemployment number by calling 1-866-500-0017. It’s important to know that you must call at a time determined by the last two digits of your Social Security number. If you miss that time, you’ll need to wait for “open call-in” dates.
 Call Time8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.Call Time12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.Call Time4:30 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Monday# 00 to 15# 16 to 33Open call-in
Tuesday# 34-48# 49-66Open call-in
Wednesday# 67-81# 82-99Open call-in
Thursday/FridayOpen call-in

If you are having difficulty with either system, you can also visit one of several Michigan unemployment office locations, found here. For any questions or concerns about your Michigan unemployment, contact an unemployment insurance representative as soon as possible so that your weekly claims are not delayed or terminated. 

To successfully complete your unemployment benefits application, you’ll need to have several documents that act as proof for your claim. Be sure to gather them first before beginning the application process. You can also read our guide on the unemployment application process for more tips.

  • Social Security number
  • State identification number
  • Names and addresses of all previous employers during the last 18 months
  • Paystubs that show your quarterly earnings
  • The last date you were employed
  • The reason you have become unemployed (fired, laid off, labor dispute, or quit); be sure this reason matches your employer’s reason, as processors will verify your claim with your previous employer
  • Personal identification number (PIN) from any previous Michigan unemployment claims
  • Alien registration number and expiration date for work authorization (non-citizens)

After filing for unemployment benefits, the UIA will contact you by mail regarding your benefits. They will explain if your claim has been accepted or denied (and if so, why). If accepted, the information packet will show how large your weekly benefit check will be, and how often you can receive unemployment payments. This information will also include information on what you must do to continue receiving benefits.

If you find that your benefit application was denied, or there was some issue with your claim, the UIA will contact you about the issue and with information on how to proceed. Michigan unemployment laws will allow you to file an appeal. If you need more information on doing so, you can visit the Michigan unemployment website for further details.

If you chose to file for benefits through the MiWAM system, you’ll be able to log in to view the progress of your application. You can also check-in by phone. Processing time for your unemployment benefits claim is generally based on how you became unemployed. General timelines are shown below:

Reason for job lossAverage claim processing time
Laid offFiling date
Quit3 to 4 weeks
Fired3 to 4 weeks
Labor dispute (such as a strike)4 to 6 weeks

How much money will I receive? When will my Michigan unemployment be paid out?

Unemployment benefits vary from person to person and are based on your previous wages and the number of weeks you are allowed to receive benefits. While the UIA will contact you by mail to explain how much you will receive and for how long, you can estimate your weekly unemployment benefits by using this formula:

  • Wages paid in the highest quarter of your base period multiplied by 4.1%
  • Round down to the nearest dollar
  • Add $6 for each dependent, up to five people

Your Michigan unemployment amount cannot be higher than $362. The minimum amount you will receive is $81 per week.

Unemployment benefits are paid out weekly. You’ll receive either a debit card where funds are deposited, or can opt to have your benefits direct deposited into your bank account.

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What do I need to do to receive my weekly benefits?

One of the most important Michigan unemployment requirements for maintaining your unemployment benefits is regularly showing that you’re looking for new work. Michigan makes this easy through MARVIN—Michigan’s Automated Response Voice Interactive Network. To collect benefits, you’ll be required to call MARVIN every other week to verify that you’ve been searching for new employment. Call-in times are based on the last two digits of your Social Security number (you can reference the chart above). You can check in with MARVIN by calling 1-866-638-3993. Failing to call MARVIN could temporarily stop your benefits.

How long will I qualify for MI unemployment benefits?

Michigan only allows residents to collect unemployment benefits for a maximum of 20 weeks per benefit year, regardless of if you find a job, stop benefits, and need to reapply later on in the year. This means there must be at least 52 weeks between Michigan unemployment claim filings to receive full benefits. For example:

If you lose your job in March 2017 and receive unemployment benefits, you qualify for 20 weeks of payments. If you receive 15 weeks of benefits and find a new job, you’ll have 5 remaining weeks of benefits to access. If you are laid off again in January of 2018, you can utilize these five weeks, and are not entitled to any further payments because a full calendar year has not passed since you first filed.

On the other hand, if 52 weeks has passed, you may be eligible to receive the full benefits period of 20 weeks. If you became unemployed in June 2017 and collected all 20 weeks of benefits, you are no longer eligible to receive any further payments for the year. Say you find a new job after that time and are employed. If you face another layoff after June 2018, you’ll be able to file a new claim and will qualify for the full 20 weeks because one whole calendar year has passed since your first claim.

In most cases, it is not possible to receive a Michigan unemployment extension. Previously, the state has only allowed extensions in times where economic downturn has created high Michigan unemployment rates.

Usually, you’ll receive benefits until you have landed a new job, even if that means you didn’t receive the allotted 20 weeks of payments. In some cases, you can accept part-time work and still receive unemployment benefits, though you should know that your weekly benefit will be reduced based on the amount of money you are earning.

In addition, it’s important to remember that you must regularly check in with the UIA to show proof of job search. Failing to do so could lead to you losing your benefits.

Unemployment Eligibility in Other States

If you have worked or resided in multiple states and would like to understand your eligibility for benefits, review some of our other state unemployment pages here:

  1. NY Unemployment Eligibility
  2. TX Unemployment Benefits
  3. Georgia Unemployment Eligibility
    . . . and more

Where can I find more information on Michigan’s unemployment benefits?

Wading through the waters of unemployment benefits can feel daunting, and there’s a lot of information to understand. For further information on claiming state of Michigan unemployment benefits, you can refer to the following sources:

Unemployment Insurance Agency
Website: http://www.michigan.gov/uia/
Phone: 1-866-500-0017
Mailing address: 3024 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit, MI 48202

UIA Frequently Asked Questions

Unemployment Fraud Hotline: 1-800-638-6372

MiWAM
MARVIN Hotline: 1-866-638-3993