Overview of Unemployment Benefits

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If you lose your job, you might be able to get unemployment benefits. Unemployment gives short-term income to those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. It is administered by the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA).

About Unemployment

Employers indirectly pay for unemployment. An employer pays unemployment taxes to the state. The amount of taxes is partly based on how many unemployment claims the employer has had against it. The taxes are put into the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. Unemployment benefits are paid out of the trust fund.

A claim is established for 52 weeks from the week you file it. This is your benefit year. You can only get 20 weeks of unemployment benefits in a benefit year. The maximum amount of unemployment is $362 a week.

The weeks you get benefits are called benefit weeks. The number of benefit weeks you get depends on your total base period wages and your weekly benefit amount.

Eligibility for Unemployment

You are eligible for unemployment if all of the following are true:

  • You don’t have a job or are working part time;

  • You worked and earned wages in the past 18 months;

  • It’s not your fault you don’t have a job;

  • You can work;

  • You’re available for work; and

  • You’re actively looking for work.

You must continue to qualify for unemployment to keep getting benefits. If one of these things changes, you might not be eligible anymore.

If you quit your job or were fired for misconduct at work, you may still qualify for benefits.

Your unemployment benefits may be reduced in any week you get severance pay. Unless you and your employer agree otherwise, your employer can choose when to allocate the severance payment. It can be in one week or over more weeks. It does not matter when you actually get the severance payment. Your benefits will be reduced in the weeks it is allocated.

Can I Apply If I Am an Immigrant?

Yes, however you will need to show proof of valid work authorization and proof that you earned enough "qualifying wages" during the past six months. For wages to be qualifying, you must have a qualifying immigration status at the time that you apply for benefits. If you include a social security number, make sure that it belongs to you.

Do Unemployment Benefits Make Me a Public Charge?
No. They are not a factor in a public charge determination.

Qualifying for Unemployment

The UIA decides if you qualify for benefits and how much you qualify for. To do this, the UIA looks at how much you earned during a base period. The base period is usually the first four of the last five quarters. A quarter is one three month period of the year. The UIA uses calendar quarters. Calendar quarters are:

  • January 1– March 31

  • April 1 – June 30

  • July 1 – September 30

  • October 1 – December 31

You qualify for unemployment benefits if all of the following are true:

  • You earned wages in two of the quarters in the base period;

  • You earned at least $3,744 in one quarter for benefit years beginning January 1, 2020; and

  • Your total wages for all four quarters is at least 1.5 times the highest amount of wages paid in any quarter.

For more information on how the UIA calculates your base period, visit the Labor and Economic Opportunity website.

Applying for Unemployment

You can apply for unemployment online or by phone. You will need a lot of information when you apply. Read Applying for Unemployment Benefits to learn more.

What Happens Next?

After you file an unemployment claim, the UIA will decide if you are eligible and if you qualify for benefits. If you disagree with a determination, you can protest and ask the UIA to look at your claim again. For example, you might want to protest if the determination says you didn’t meet the wage requirements. Or you might want to protest if you think you deserve more benefits than it says.

The UIA must get your written protest within 30 days of when the determination was issued. If the UIA doesn’t receive your protest within 30 days, you must show good cause why it was late. Good cause can be very hard to prove. If you can’t show good cause the determination will become final.

You can make your written protest by mail or online. To submit online, use your Michigan Web Account Manager. Visit the UIA’s website for instructions. To mail your protest, sent it to:

Unemployment Insurance Agency
P.O. Box 169
Grand Rapids, MI 49501-0169

You may want to speak with a lawyer before sending your protest to the UIA. Read the section “Do You Need Legal Advice about your Unemployment Benefits?” below for more information.

Getting Unemployment

If you are getting unemployment, you must do certain things to receive your payments and keep qualifying. Read Getting Unemployment Benefits: Your Rights & Responsibilities to learn more.

Do You Need Legal Advice about your Unemployment Benefits?

If you have low income, you may qualify for free legal services. Whether you have low income or not, you can use the Guide to Legal Help to find lawyers in your area.