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Common Questions about Unemployment Benefits

Contents

    This is a list of common question about applying for and receiving unemployment benefits.

    Questions about Applying for Unemployment

    Am I eligible for unemployment benefits?

    To be eligible for unemployment benefits you must:

    • Be involuntarily unemployed through no fault of your own
    • Be able and available to work full time
    • Be actively seeking full-time employment, and
    • Meet the minimum wage requirements
    How do I apply for unemployment benefits?

    Read the article Applying for Unemployment to learn how to apply for benefits.

    You can apply for unemployment online or by phone. To file online, go to the File an Unemployment Claim Online website. If you file online, it is a good idea to save or print a copy of your application. Then if it gets lost, you can prove when you filed it. To file by phone call 1-866-500-0017. You must call during your time slot. Your time slot is based on the last two digits of your social security number. You can find the schedule and other information about applying for unemployment benefits in the UIA’s Fact Sheet Claiming Unemployment Benefits in Michigan.

    What do I need when applying for unemployment benefits?

    You should have all of the following information available when applying for benefits:

    • Your social security number
    • Your driver's license or state ID number
    • The names, addresses, dates of employment, and wages paid by the employers you worked for during the past 18 months
    • Your bank’s routing transit number and your account number if you want direct deposit for your benefit payments
    • Your alien registration number and the expiration date of your work authorization if you are not a U.S. citizen
    • Your personal identification number from any previous unemployment claim if you have one

    Read the article Applying for Unemployment to learn how to apply for benefits.

    When should I file my claim for unemployment benefits?

    It is best to apply in your first week of unemployment, but you should register with Michigan Works! before you claim your first week of benefits.

    What happens after I apply for unemployment benefits?

    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 monetary determination. It will tell you:

    • If you qualify and are eligible for unemployment benefits
    • How much your weekly payments could be
    • How many weeks you could get benefits

    You will get a separate notice if there is a qualification or eligibility problem with your claim. You must be qualified to start getting benefits. You must remain eligible as long as you’re getting unemployment.

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

    If the UIA has questions about your claim, you may receive a questionnaire that you will need to complete and send back to the UIA within 10 days of the date on the questionnaire. If you do not send it back within 10 days, you may be denied benefits.

    Can I retire and get unemployment benefits?

    Probably not. Unemployment benefits are for those who are involuntarily unemployed through no fault of their own. You can only get unemployment benefits if you are able to work, available for work and seeking full time work. Usually, if you’ve retired you are voluntarily unemployed.

    What might the UIA consider a good reason to quit?

    If you chose to quit your job you may not get benefits. You might get benefits if your employer gave you a good reason to quit. Some examples of good reasons to quit may be:

    • Harassment or discrimination in the workplace and the employer’s failure to fix the problem;
    • Your employer asked you to do something illegal or unethical;
    • You were told you will be laid off soon or forced to retire;
    • Your income was reduced or not paid;
    • A significant change in working conditions or terms of employment;
    • You are not being paid enough to make a living;
    • Your work conditions put you at serious health risk;
    • You left to accept a full-time job; or
    • There were unreasonable schedule changes.
    What might the UIA consider misconduct?

    Misconduct is a deliberate violation of workplace standards or “carelessness or negligence of such degree or recurrence that it shows an intentional and substantial disregard of an employer’s interests.” Some examples of misconduct include:

    • Getting drunk or using drugs at work
    • Failing or refusing to take a drug test
    • Stealing or willfully destroying property at work
    • Missing work because you were convicted of a crime and sent to jail
    • Missing three straight days without telling your employer or
    • Taking part in an illegal strike
    What might the UIA not consider misconduct?

    The following examples might not be considered misconduct:

    • Your employer said you were not doing your job right;
    • You showed bad judgment or negligence (unless it is constant or your job has great responsibility over life or property);
    • You broke a rule because you thought it was in your employer’s best interest;
    • You caused harm to your employer without realizing your action would be against the employer’s interests;
    • An illness or injury prevents full performance of your job;
    • You were following a supervisor’s orders;
    • You made bad decisions in the course of your job;
    • You missed work for reasons beyond your control; or
    • You refuse to work on a day designated as Sabbath by your religion.
    What are the minimum wage requirements to be eligible for unemployment?

    The minimum wage requirements are based on your wages in your standard base period. To meet minimum wage requirements you must have:

    • Gotten wages in at least two quarters in your standard base period
    • Earned at least $3,589 in one quarter and
    • Total wages for all four quarters must be at least 1.5 times more than the highest amount of wages paid in any single quarter

    For example, if you earned $5,000 in your highest quarter, your total wages for all four quarters must be at least $7,500.

    What should I bring to my meeting at Michigan Works!?

    When you report in person to the Michigan Works! Agency (MWA) Service Center bring:

    • A photo ID that is accepted by the state, such as a driver’s license, state ID, or green 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 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.

    How long does it take to find out if I am eligible to get unemployment benefits?

    If you were laid off, you should find out if you are eligible when you file. If you quit or were fired it usually takes three to four weeks to find out. If you are on strike it will usually take four to six weeks.

    General Questions about Unemployment

    How much are unemployment benefits?

    You can get up to $362 a week for 14 to 20 weeks.

    The UIA calculates your weekly benefit amount by multiplying the wages paid in your highest base period quarter by 4.1%. You also get an extra $6 per week for each dependent you claim, up to five dependents, but your benefits can’t exceed $362.

    For example, if your highest base period was $5,000 and you have three dependents, your weekly benefits could be $223 ($5,000 x 4.1% = $205 + (3 x $6) = $223).

    To figure out how many weeks you may get benefits, your total base period wages are multiplied by 43% and then divided by your weekly benefit amount. If your claim is calculated to be less than 14 weeks, you can’t get benefits at all. You can’t get unemployment for more than 20 weeks. For example: if your total base period wages are $12,000 and your weekly benefit amount is $223, you would receive those benefits for 20 weeks ($12,000 x 43% = 5,160/$223 = 23.1), because weeks cannot exceed 20.

    What is the standard base period?

    Your standard base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before you filed your unemployment claim. There are four calendar quarters in a year:

    • January – March
    • April – June
    • July – September
    • October – December

    For example: if you file your claim in July 2018, the four quarters in your standard base period are:

    • April – June 2017
    • July – September 2017
    • October – December 2017
    • January – March 2018

    If you don’t qualify because you didn’t have enough wages in the standard base period, you may be able to qualify with your wages in the alternative base period. This is the four quarters right before you file for unemployment. So, if you file your claim in July 2018, the four quarters in the alternative base period are:

    • July – September 2017
    • October – December 2017
    • January – March 2018
    • April – June 2018
    What is unemployment fraud?

    Fraud is intentional misrepresentation. If you conceal or misrepresent any eligibility information that can affect your benefits, the UIA might decide you’ve committed fraud. If the numbers you report don’t match the numbers your employer reports, the UIA might decide you’ve committed fraud. The UIA will send you a determination that says you have committed intentional misrepresentation if it thinks you’ve committed fraud.

    If you get a determination that says you have intentionally misrepresented information to the UIA, it may include information about money you have to repay. The UIA may report you to the Michigan Attorney General’s office for criminal prosecution/investigation. If you are found to have committed fraud, you may have to repay four times as much you got in unemployment benefits.

    If you disagree with the determination, you can protest the determination. The UIA must receive your protest within 30 days of when it mailed or sent the determination. Read the article When You Disagree With a Determination From the UIA (coming soon).

    What is my unemployment benefit year?

    The UIA defines your benefit year as the 52 consecutive weeks that start when you file an unemployment claim if you qualify for unemployment. The benefit year starts the Sunday of the week you file. It ends the Saturday one year later. Your benefits year is also ended if your benefits are cancelled.

    Once you have established a claim, you can claim your 20 weeks of benefits any week during the benefit year that you are eligible to claim benefits. The 20 weeks do not have to be consecutive. There can be weeks you do not claim benefits in between the ones that you do.

    Questions about Keeping Your Benefits

    What must I do to keep getting unemployment benefits?

    While you’re getting unemployment, each week you must be:

    • Able and available to work full time
    • Seeking full time work, and
    • Unemployed or only working part time

    You also report your work search at least once a month by:

    • Submitting information on the Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) under UIA Online Services for Unemployed Workers
    • Mailing or faxing form UIA 1583, Monthly Record of Work Search or
    • Filing form UIA 1583, Monthly Record of Work Search at a Michigan Works! office
    How long can I get unemployment benefits?

    You get benefits for between 14 and 20 weeks.

    What if I don’t report to Michigan Works!?

    You might not get your benefit payment if you don’t report to Michigan Works! or file your resume on the Michigan Talent Bank. You must report and file your resume before you claim your first week of benefits.

    What if I miss my time to call MARVIN or claim my benefits online?

    MARVIN is available by phone Thursdays and Fridays 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. for those who miss their designated times to call. You can claim benefits online anytime between 7:00 a.m. Monday and 7:00 p.m. Saturday each week. If you don’t claim your benefits within 14 days of your designated time, you will not be able to get the benefits unless you can prove you had good cause for not claiming them.

    What is the UIA’s profiling program?

    Profiling is a program that identifies those who are likely to use up their unemployment benefits before finding another job. Michigan Works! Agency tries to match them with services and retraining programs at its service centers.

    If you’re selected for the Profiling program, you must participate unless you have a return-to-work date that’s within 120 days of your layoff.

    If you miss an orientation session at a service center, you may not be able to get your unemployment benefit during any weeks you don’t participate in the Profiling program.

    Can I still get unemployment benefits if I get a job offer I don’t want to accept?

    If you are offered suitable employment that you don’t take, your benefits may be terminated. Whether a job is considered suitable is based on a number of factors including:

    • Any risk to your health, safety, or morals
    • The need for physical fitness or training to do the work
    • How long you have been unemployed
    • The likelihood that you will find other suitable employment in the area
    • How far the job is from your home
    • Your past work experience and wages
    Can I still get unemployment benefits if I get a part time job?

    You might be able to keep getting unemployment benefits while you’re working part time. Your benefits will be reduced in the weeks you have income from your part time job.

    What if I am an unemployed homeowner and am worried about foreclosure?

    If you are worried about making your mortgage payments or foreclosure, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) may help through its federal Hardest Hit fund designed to help unemployed homeowners. Visit MSHDA's Web site at www.michigan.gov/HardestHit to learn more. You can call toll free 1-866-946-7432 to be directed to a homeownership counselor in your area.

    What if I was overpaid unemployment benefits?

    The UIA is responsible for collecting overpayments of unemployment benefits. If you were overpaid benefits and you are currently employed, contact the UIA Benefit Overpayment Collection unit at 1-800-638-6372 to arrange repayment. Interest accumulates very quickly on unemployment overpayments.

    If you become unemployed and establish a claim for unemployment benefits, 50 percent (or 100 percent if fraud was involved in the original overpayment) of your weekly unemployment benefit payment will be taken for repayment. If there was fraud involved in the original overpayment, all your benefit payments will be taken to repay the overpayment. There are other penalties for fraud, too.

    What if I don’t repay an overpayment of my unemployment benefits?

    If you don’t repay an overpayment, the UIA may:

    • Take your federal and/or Michigan income tax refund
    • Garnish your wages
    • Refer your case to the Department of the Attorney General for litigation
    • Place a lien on your real property, and/or
    • Garnish your bank account

    When you’re working, interest accumulates very quickly on unemployment overpayments. You may want to repay the overpayment as quickly as possible.

    You may be able to get your repayment waived if the overpayment was not your fault and if requiring you to repay the benefits would be “contrary to equity and good conscience.”

    Your repayment could be waived if:

    • There was an administrative clerical error by the UIA in paying your benefits;
    • Your employer did not provide wage and separation information timely and you made an honest mistake; or
    • You are suffering great financial hardship.
    Does my severance pay affect my unemployment benefits?

    Yes. 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.

    What if I am laid off again after I return to work?

    File a new claim if you return to work but become unemployed again. If you stopped getting benefits for a reason other than starting to work again, reopen your claim.

    Questions about Disagreeing with Unemployment Insurance Agency Determinations

    What if I have been denied unemployment benefits?

    If you have been denied benefits, you can protest and ask for a redetermination. The UIA must get your written protest within 30 days of when the determination was issued. If the UIA doesn’t get 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, fax, or online using your Michigan Web Account Manager. If you choose to mail your protest, send it to Unemployment Insurance Agency, P.O. Box 169, Grand Rapids, MI 49501-0169. You can fax it to 517-636-0427. Keep copies of your fax confirmation.

    What if I think I should get more unemployment benefits?

    If you disagree with the amount of your benefits, you can protest and ask for a redetermination. In your protest, state that you protest the monetary determination. The UIA must get your written protest within 30 days of when the determination was issued. If the UIA doesn’t get your protest within 30 days, you must show good cause why it was late. If you can’t show good cause the determination will become final and not subject to further review.

    You can make your written protest by mail, fax, or online using your Michigan Web Account Manager. If you choose to mail your protest, send it to Unemployment Insurance Agency, P.O. Box 169, Grand Rapids, MI 49501-0169. You can fax it to 517-636-0427.

    What can I do if I disagree with my unemployment determination?

    If you disagree with your determination, you can protest and ask for a redetermination. The UIA must get your written protest within 30 days of when the determination was issued. If the UIA doesn’t get your protest within 30 days, you must show good cause why it was late. If you can’t show good cause the determination will become final. Read When You Disagree With a Determination (coming soon) to learn more.

    You can make your written protest by mail, fax, or online using your Michigan Web Account Manager. If you choose to mail your protest, send it to Unemployment Insurance Agency, P.O. Box 169, Grand Rapids, MI 49501-0169. You can fax it to 517-636-0427.