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Getting Unemployment Benefits: Your Rights & Responsibilities


    To get unemployment benefits, you must first apply for them from the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA). Read Applying for Unemployment to learn more about applying.

    You must continue to qualify for unemployment benefits to keep getting them. You must also continue to be eligible for unemployment benefits. Read Overview of Unemployment Benefits to learn more about qualifying and eligibility. To stay eligible and qualified for unemployment, there are certain things you must do.

    Read the Unemployment Booklet

    After you got your determination, you should have gotten the Unemployment Benefit Booklet. It has information about your rights and responsibilities when you’re getting unemployment. It is very important to read the booklet carefully. The UIA expects applicants to read this booklet.

    Claim Your Benefits

    You must report certain things every two weeks in order to claim your benefits. You can report online or by telephone.

    Reporting online

    You can claim your benefits using the Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM). To learn how to use MiWAM, you can use the MiWAM toolkit. You can log on MiWAM 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    Reporting by phone

    You can also report by telephone to Michigan’s Automated Response Voice Interactive Network (MARVIN) at (866) 638-3993. MARVIN is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In order to use MARVIN, you will need to create a secret four digit Personal Identification Number (PIN).

    Answering questions

    When you report, you will be asked a series of questions. Those questions are listed in the Unemployment Benefits Booklet. Your answers may disqualify you from getting benefits. Answer honestly and accurately; not doing so can lead to your benefits being suspended and even charges of fraud. Below are some important questions you will be asked, along with information on how you should answer them.

    Were you able to work full-time and available for full-time work?

    Answer “Yes” to this question if you were able and available to work during the entire period. Answer “No” if you were not able to work full time during the week. This may mean your benefits are reduced for this week. How much your benefits are reduced depends on how many days you were not able to work. If you don’t answer honestly, you could face fraud penalties.

    Were you seeking work?

    Answer “Yes” to this question if you met all the job search and registration requirements during the period. To learn more about the requirements, read the “Seek Work” section below and the Applying for Unemployment article.

    Did you have any earnings, vacation pay, holiday pay, severance pay, bonus pay, or other wage continuation pay?

    Answer “Yes” if you earned any pay during the period. You must report all your income when you claim benefits.

    Report your income in the week you earn it, even if you have not been paid yet. Reporting weeks are scheduled from Sunday until Saturday. Report any work you did for pay during the period. Report any other income, too, such as pension or retirement benefits, holiday pay, vacation pay, and severance pay.

    If you don’t report all your income, the UIA may decide you have committed fraud. This can lead to severe penalties and fines. Keep track of your income. Even an honest mistake can trigger a fraud accusation.

    If You Don’t Report

    If you do not report when you are supposed to, and you do not have good cause (a good reason) for not reporting, you will not be paid for those weeks. If you have good cause for the late report, you could get up to 14 more days to report. Good cause includes:

    • A family death

    • Attendance at a funeral

    • Working

    • Relying on a promise of work

    • Incapacity of either the unemployed worker or a dependent or

    • A storm that makes it impossible to call or connect on the Internet

    Other circumstances might also qualify as good cause.

    If you do not report when you are supposed to (or the make-up days), you must call a customer service representative at (866) 500-0017. The Agency will issue a determination stating which weeks, if any, cannot be paid and when your payment will resume.

    Respond to Requests for Information

    The UIA might ask you for information through the mail, through MiWAM, or by telephone. If the UIA asks you for information, respond within 10 days. If you do not respond within 10 days, you may lose your benefits and be charged with fraud.

    Answer all UIA requests for information truthfully. If you don’t, you could be charged with fraud penalties for misleading the UIA.

    Keep the UIA Informed

    Tell the UIA if your address or phone number changes. If the UIA can’t reach you by mail or phone, you are considered unavailable for work. If you are unavailable for work, you are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

    Keep Your Former Employer Informed

    Tell all the employers listed on your claim if your contact information changes. If an employer listed on your claim can’t contact you about an offer to return to work, you are considered unavailable for work. If you are unavailable for work, you are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

    Seek Work

    You must keep looking for work. Submit a monthly, detailed record of your job search. List each employer you have applied to.

    You can submit the report by:

    • Using the online reporting system

    • Faxing or mailing a written report

    • Appearing at a Michigan Works! office

    Accept Job Offers

    You are allowed up to 20 weeks of unemployment benefits. During the first ten weeks you get benefits, you must accept any suitable work offer related to past work experience and training if it pays at least 70% of what your last job paid.

    After you have collected benefits for ten weeks, you must apply for and accept work outside of your past work experience and training if the job meets all of the following:

    • The offered pay is at least 120% of your weekly benefit amount

    • The offered pay is at least the average wage for similar work in the area

    • The offered work pays at least the state minimum hour wage (currently $9.25)

    If you do not accept suitable work, and the UIA is told about the work offer, you may be found ineligible for benefits. Read What is Suitable Work? on the UIA website, to learn more about what is suitable work.

    Obey UIA Notices

    The UIA may ask you to appear at a specific location to evaluate your eligibility for unemployment benefits. If you get a notice, appear. If you do not go, you may be found ineligible for benefits.

    Keep Good Records

    Keep a record of dates and times you have contacted the UIA. Get the names of any people you talk to on the phone. Keep copies of documents you submit to the UIA.