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Michigan Unemployment – Know Your Rights

Last Verified: January 2017

Michigan has undergone some difficult financial hardships in recent years. As a result, many businesses have been forced to close leaving thousands of citizens unemployed. While the unemployment rate has improved substantially since the most recent recession reached its peak, the state’s workers still face a volatile employment situation, especially in the manufacturing industries that made the state an economic powerhouse in the past.

Recent troubles with the state’s new computer system, MiDAS, caused additional hardships. The system, meant to streamline the process for filing unemployment benefit claims, instead erroneously accused tens of thousands of benefit recipients of fraud and denied claims for more. An audit showed the error rate was 93%.

State auditors recommended a top to bottom review and for the UIA to make changes, according to the Detroit Free Press. However, the UIA failed to take the auditors recommendations. In January 2017, the state removed the director of the agency amidst allegations that the agency failed to pursue the employers who didn’t pay the taxes that funds the unemployment insurance program.

The most recent audit of the UIA, likely the one that caused the personnel shake-up, reveals continuing problems. This is compounded by the lawsuits by aggrieved claimants and a court order for the UIA to stop pursuing overpayments through collection activities.

The state’s workers face a daunting task in simply filing a claim. It is therefore imperative that you understand the process before seeking assistance from the agency.


In order to determine whether or not you can receive Michigan unemployment benefits, you must meet the eligibility requirements. The state will first determine whether you have earned enough wages from an employer covered by the unemployment insurance program over a 12-month period.

If you have earned enough wages, the state will look at other issues to determine eligibility. Those issues include:

  • Whether you are unemployed through no fault of your own
  • Whether you are able and available to accept suitable employment
  • Whether you are in fact a Michigan resident and allowed to work in the US legally

If you do qualify for benefits, you will have to remain eligible as long as you receive benefits. You will have to show you are  actively seeking work, and you can’t refuse a reasonable job offer. The UIA requires you to register for work by submitting your resume with the Michigan Talent Bank and visiting your local Michigan Works service center.

Eligibility Requirements Explained

Unemployed Through No Fault of Your Own

Generally, if your actions or decisions did not cause your separation from work, you will receive benefits if otherwise eligible. Lay offs and businesses closing are common examples of this. If you quit for a “good cause connected to your work,” you may be eligible. Your employer may fire you; however, unless your actions rise to the level of “misconduct” as defined by the state law, you may be eligible even though dismissed.

Able and Available

You must be physically and mentally able to work when you file a claim, and must remain available while you receive benefits.

Legal to Work in the US

You must be a US citizen or have an alien registration card to be eligible to receive unemployment. You must present proof of such when you apply.

Monetary Eligibility and the Base Period

There are also financial requirements you must meet for Michigan unemployment benefits. The UIA will look at your wages during your base period (the first 4 of the last 5 calendar quarters from when you file your claim).

unemployment base period
This chart shows the base period.

The state requires that:

  • You must have wages in at least 2 quarters of your base period
  • You must earn at least $3,298 in at least one of those quarters.
  • The total wages for all four quarters must be 1.5x your highest earning quarter from your base period.

If you are filing for unemployment for the first time, you must have worked for at least one but no more than 19 employers during the previous 18 months. You also cannot have filed for unemployment with another state within the past year (12 months). Lastly, you cannot have worked under more than 1 social security number in the past 18 months.

If you don’t qualify under this standard test, you may under the Alternate Earnings Qualifier test.

  • You must have wages in at least two quarters
  • Your base period wages have to be at least 20 times the state average weekly wage

Maximum Benefit Amount

The state also uses the wages you earned during the base period to determine how much you’ll receive each week, your weekly benefit amount (WBA). The UIA examiner calculates your WBA by multiplying your highest quarterly total of wages by 4.1%, adding $6.00 per dependent (up to 5 dependents) and rounding down to the nearest dollar.

The maximum WBA in Michigan is currently $362 per week.

The state limits the number of weeks each claimant may receive benefits. The number of weeks you can receive benefits is multiplying your total base period wages by 43%, then dividing that number by your WBA and rounding the number down.

You can receive benefits for a maximum of 20 weeks during the benefit year.

Applying for Benefits

You may file for Michigan unemployment insurance online or by phone. You’ll file online using the Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM).

Before beginning your application there is some information that you will need. You will need:

  • Your social security number
  • Drivers license or state ID number
  • If you have filed before, you will need your PIN number
  • Information for all employers in the past 18 months (name, address, phone number, wages)

To file over the phone call 1-866-500-0017.

If you do not have your employer’s information from the past 18 months you must file by phone. Also, your weekly benefits amount will not be determined by the wages you claim in your application. The UIA will not determine your benefits amount until they have documentation of your wages.

Maintaining Eligibility and Weekly Claims

The UIA requires that you maintain the eligibility status you had when you filed your successful initial claim for benefits. To verify this, the state requires that you file a claim each week to receive your WBA.

You can file with MiWAM online or call the Michigan Automated Response Voice Interactive Network (MARVIN) and request payment at 1-866-638-3993.

You’ll need to present your social security number and the Personal Identification Number you set up when you filed your initial claim.

You can file a weekly claim online at any time. If you use MARVIN, you will have to follow the calling schedule. Use the last two digits of your social security number to find the day and time you can call.

8:00 – 9:00
9:00 – 10:00 
10:00 – 11:00
11:00 – 12:00
12:00 – 1:00
1:00 – 2:00
2:00 – 3:00
3:00 – 4:00
4:00 – 5:00
5:00 – 6:00
6:00 – 7:00

Once you call into the system or file the weekly claim online, you will be asked a series of questions regarding your status. MARVIN will ask several questions regarding:

  • Whether you are able to work
  • Whether you are available to work
  • Whether you are looking for work
  • Whether you have started or quit a job
  • Whether you have any wages or income to report
  • Whether you have refused any job offers

The system may instruct you to contact a claims office to provide additional information.

If you miss that schedules time you can call during regular business hours. Even if your scheduled time happens to be on a holiday, MARVIN will still be available. If you miss the week completely, you will have to call a customer service agent to show a good cause why you missed, or face losing that week of payments.

Part-time Work and Eligibility

The UIA makes allowances for those who work infrequently by offering “flexible week benefits.” You can request a payment every two weeks if you earn 1.5 times your WBA in two consecutive weeks, then experience a week where you earn no wages.

You must call 1-866-500-0017 to speak with a customer service rep or resolve the issue using MiWAM if you want to claim flexible week benefits.

If you do work during a week but don’t earn in excess of 1.5 times your WBA, the state will deduct money from your WBA that week. To estimate what you’ll receive, subtract your earnings from 1.5 times your WBA.

If you earn at least 1.5 times your WBA or more for any week, you won’t receive benefits for that week.

You must report wages earned in the week you worked to earn them, not the week you received payment.

Work Search Requirement

You will have had to register with Michigan Works! when you filed your initial claim. You may benefit from registering before you file a claim.

The state requires proof that you are making a serious effort to find a job. You must report your efforts to the UIA using a PDF form you can complete online.

You must make at least two job contacts per week to satisfy the requirement. A “job contact” could be filing out an application or contacting a person who is in a position to hire employees. A generic job search will not count.

Michigan unemployment insurance

The state offers specific assistance to workers who may have difficulty finding employment, like workers with job experience not currently in demand. They UIA will contact you if you are selected for such assistance. You may receive training in job search and resume writing skills or retraining for other careers. If the UIA calls you to participate, you have to or face losing eligibility.

Suitable Employment

You may not turn down a job unless it is one you aren’t trained to perform or the salary is below what you were paid previously. Jobs like those are considered to be suitable employment. However, if you have been out of work for half of your benefit weeks, you must accept job offers that pay at least 120% of your WBA. Such jobs may be outside of your skillset.


During your application, you will be asked how you would like to receive your payments. You can either receive payments into a prepaid debit card or through direct deposit into your bank account. If you would like direct deposit you can enter in your bank’s information when you apply. For more information on payment method, you can visit

Reasons for Denial of Benefits

When you file your initial claim, the UIA will observe your wages during your base period. They will send you the findings in a statement of Monetary Determination. The sheet will show whether you are eligible, and if you are, how much you’ll receive weekly.

If you are not eligible, the state will deny your benefits. You may request a redetermination if you have additional evidence of your wages. You can request one if you disagree with the amount of your WBA.

If you are qualified because of wages, the state may still deny your claim for other reasons. Most often, the state denies benefits because of separation issues. If your actions or decisions led to your separation from work, the state may deny benefits.

If you quit for reasons not connected to work, the state may deny benefits even though you feel you had a good reason, like starting school. Your decision, unrelated to work, led to your separation.

If your employer dismissed you for repeated violations of policy after repeated warnings, your actions caused the separation from work. This is called “misconduct connected to the work.”

There may be reasons not related to separation issues or the monetary determination that leads to a denial of benefits. You may not receive benefits if you are incarcerated. You will not be available to accept suitable employment, for example.

Quit and Still Eligible

If you quit work for a “good cause” connected to the job, you may still be eligible for benefits even though quitting was your decision. Your employer may have forced you to work under unsafe conditions or may have substantially reduced your pay. The state will expect that you took steps to try and save the job before quitting, like speaking with your supervisor about the situation several times.

Fired and Still Eligible

Your employer may have fired you for some violation of their rules, which is their right in many occupations (where you are an “at will” employee). However, the state may not consider your actions to be “misconduct connected to the work.” For example, you are fired for being late after working at the job for two months. You were never late before and had no other disciplinary actions. The one-time violation may not be misconduct. Severe one-time violations, like violence on the job, are likely to cause the state to deny the claim.

Misconduct Not Connected to Work

If you are dismissed for something that happened while you weren’t working, the UIA may consider the event disqualifying even though it wasn’t “connected to work.” You may have failed a drug test or you were arrested on your day off.

What Happens When Benefits are Denied: The Appeal Process

If your claim for benefits was denied, you have an opportunity to appeal the decision. Your letter of denial will state the reason why you were denied. If you feel the reasoning was unfair or incorrect here are the steps you need to take.

You can request a redetermination within 30 days of receiving your original determination. If after the redetermination you are unsatisfied you can file an appeal to the Michigan Administrative Hearing System.  You can use this form for your appeal: You may mail your appeals form to:

P.O. Box 124
Grand Rapids, MI 49501

You may also fax your appeal to 1-616-356-0739.

If you are denied benefits, please visit our section on appealing benefits decision in Michigan.


Here are some useful resources for more information on Michigan unemployment.

Official Michigan Unemployment Website

Michigan Job Market information

General Information

Unemployment Insurance Forms,4680,7-118-1360—,00.html

Learn about the Appeals process

For Job Assistance:

  • Michigan Talent Bank
  • Michigan Works



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