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Applying for Unemployment


    Information You Need Before You Apply

    When you apply for unemployment, you will need:

    • Your social security number

    • A mailing address, including zip code and county

    • Your driver's license or state ID number

    • The names and addresses of all your employers during the past 18 months

    • The dates of employment and wages paid by each employer during the past 18 months

    • If you are not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, your alien registration number and the expiration date of your work authorization

    • Your personal identification number (PIN) from any past unemployment claims

    Choose How to Get Your Benefits

    You can choose to have your benefits paid in one of two ways. You can have them put on a debit card from the UIA. Or you can have your benefits directly deposited into your bank or credit union account. If you choose direct deposit, you will need the routing transit number and your account number.

    You can change how you get your benefits paid by calling 1-866-500-0017 and choosing option 2.

    Add Up Your Wages

    You will have to give your gross wages from each employer by calendar quarter for the past 18 months. Start with the most recent quarter. Calendar quarters are:

    • January 1– March 31

    • April 1 – June 30

    • July 1 – September 30

    • October 1 – December 31

    It is best to give the most accurate numbers possible. But if you don’t know your exact wages, you can estimate.

    Organizing your information

    You can use Form UIA 1538 – What You Need to File an Unemployment Claim to organize your information before you apply. You can also use it to create a record of what you report to the UIA.

    When to Apply

    An unemployment claim begins the week you file it. Apply for the benefits as soon as you qualify and want to start getting them.

    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.

    So if you get 12 weeks of unemployment, work for 20 weeks, and then need unemployment again, you will only have eight weeks of benefits left for this benefit year. You will not be able to get more benefits until 52 weeks after you filed the original claim.

    How to Apply

    You can apply for unemployment benefits online, by phone, or in person.

    Apply online

    You can apply online from 7:00 a.m. Monday – 7:00 p.m. Saturday. It usually takes about 30 minutes to apply online, but it may depend on your Internet connection. You can file online if you:

    • Worked for between one and 19 Michigan employers in the last 18 months AND

    • Only worked under one social security number in the last 18 months AND

    • Have not filed an unemployment claim with any other state in the past 12 months AND

    • Know your employer’s mailing address

    To file online go to the Michigan Web Account Manager. You will have to create a login name and password. Then you will be asked a series of questions. Yellow answer fields indicate required answers.

    Be sure to save or print a copy of your application so you have proof of when you filed.

    Apply by phone

    To apply by phone, call 1-866-500-0017. You must call during a specific time. Your time is assigned by the last two digits of your social security number. You can find the schedule and other information about applying for unemployment benefits in the Michigan UIA’s Fact Sheet Claiming Unemployment Benefits in Michigan.

    When you call, you will be asked a series of questions by an automated system. It will take about 30 minutes. At the end, you will be given a confirmation number. Write it down. You will need it if there are any problems with your application.

    If you apply by phone, you can choose to hear and answer the questions in Spanish.

    Problem Resolution Offices

    If you can’t get to a phone or computer, or if you’re having a problem with your application, you can go to a Problem Resolution Office (PRO) for help. You can go to the PRO page on the UIA’s website to learn more.

    Classifying Your Separation

    When you apply, you will be asked the reason for your separation. This means the reason you are no longer working for that employer. There are several options. Generally, separations are in one of three categories:

    • Fired

    • Laid off or

    • Quit

    The UIA will compare your response to this question to your employer’s response when determining your eligibility for benefits.


    If you were fired, the UIA will consider the reason you were fired when determining your eligibility. Give the reason your employer gave you for firing you, even if you disagree with it. You will have a chance to explain if you disagree with the reason for your firing. Giving a reason that is different than your employer’s may lead to a finding of fraud, which may bring penalties. It is important to tell the truth, even if it’s not pleasant.

    If you were fired for misconduct in connection with work, you will be disqualified from benefits. Misconduct is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Circumstances that can lead to disqualification for misconduct include:

    • Intoxication at work

    • Excessive attendance violations

    • Falsifying company documents and

    • Other conduct that is intentionally detrimental conduct towards the employer.

    If you were fired for poor performance, you may still be eligible for benefits. Generally, being fired for not being good enough at your job does not disqualify you.

    Laid Off

    You were laid off if you were terminated due to a reduction in the workforce, plant shutdown, or the company closed and you were not fired and did not quit.


    If you quit, the Agency will look at why you quit in determining your eligibility. Give the reason you gave your employer for quitting. Giving a reason different than the response your employer gives may lead to a finding of fraud, which may bring penalties.

    Generally, if you voluntarily quit your job, you are disqualified from unemployment. There are some exceptions. If you quit a job for another permanent, full-time job, you are not disqualified. If you were forced to quit for reasons beyond your control, you might not be disqualified. If you quit for good cause attributable to the employer, you are not disqualified.

    “Good cause attributable to your employer” means you quit because of something your employer did. For the UIA to accept that you quit for this reason, you have to be able to prove you let your employer know about a legitimate problem. You also have to prove the problem was not fixed after a reasonable time.

    Register for Work

    You must register for work with Michigan Works! after you apply. Michigan Works! is a statewide network of offices that helps people find jobs.

    To register, go to a Michigan Works! Service Center. There are more than 100 Michigan Works! offices in Michigan. You can find one at the Michigan! Works website or by calling 1-800-285-WORKS (9675).

    You will need:

    • A photo ID that is accepted by the state, such as driver’s license, state ID, or permanent resident card

    • An official document that shows both your social security number and your name, such as your social security card or a tax or employment document

    • A printed resume

    If you don’t have a resume when you register, you will need to bring one to the service center later.

    The staff at Michigan Works! will help you register in the Michigan Talent Bank (MTB) with your resume. MTB is the Michigan Works! online resume and job seeking system. They can’t answer any questions about your unemployment claim. They can give you resources for finding work or getting training.

    You will get a Notice to Register for Work after you register at Michigan Works! Keep that document safe.

    If you don’t register at Michigan Works! at least three days before you request your first unemployment payment, you might not get the payment. Keep proof that you registered for work in case the UIA loses the records.

    Reopening a Claim

    You need to reopen your claim if you stopped getting benefits for a reason other than starting to work again. If you want to reopen your unemployment claim, follow the same steps as if you are applying for a new one.

    File a new claim if you were working but got laid off again.

    Checking on Your Application

    You can check the status of your claim by calling 800-500-0017 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on weekdays. You can also go to a PRO to get help or access to automated resources. You can find the locations and hours on the UIA’s website.

    After You Apply

    After you apply for unemployment, the UIA will decide if you are eligible and if you qualify for benefits. The UIA will mail you a determination. It will tell you:

    • How much your weekly payments could be

    • How many weeks you could get benefits

    You will get a separate notice if there is an eligibility problem with your claim.

    It should take about five days after filing a claim to get your determination. It might take longer if the UIA has any questions about your claim.

    If you are eligible for benefits you will get the Unemployment Benefit Booklet a couple days after you get your determination. It has detailed information about your rights and responsibilities when you’re getting unemployment. It also tells you how to get your benefit payment. It is very important to read the booklet carefully. To learn about your responsibilities while you’re getting unemployment, read the article Getting Unemployment Benefits: Your Rights & Responsibilities.

    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. Read the article When You Disagree with a Determination from UIA (coming soon) to learn more about how to protest and appeal.