Michigan Unemployment Benefits and Eligibility

In this article...
  • Find out if you're eligible to make an unemployment claim in Michigan, and learn more about the benefits you could receive if you're laid off from your job.

Layoffs can happen without warning, leaving you without a regular paycheck. That's where Michigan's unemployment program comes in. It provides a weekly cash payment to help replace part of your lost income. The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) administers the program and handles claims according to the Michigan Employment Security Act.

Not everyone is eligible for unemployment benefits in Michigan; the UIA makes a determination based on a variety of factors, including your income and the reason you left your job. When you file claims quickly and accurately, it's easier to access the funds you need to get back on your feet.

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Who Is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits in Michigan

To qualify for unemployment benefits in Michigan, you must meet the state's criteria. The basic requirements are simple: You must be a Michigan resident, currently unemployed through no fault of your own and actively looking for a full-time job. 

Wage Requirements

Michigan requires you to meet a specific income threshold to receive unemployment assistance. The state looks at income in terms of quarters — Quarter 1 is January-March, Quarter 2 is April-June, Quarter 4 is July-September and Quarter 4 is October-December.

When the UIA looks at your income, it will use one of two periods.

Standard Base Period

From the date you make an unemployment claim, count backward to find the last five complete quarters. The standard period is the first four of these quarters. During this period, you must have: 

  • Made money in at least two quarters
  • Earned $3,830 or more in at least one quarter
  • Earned a total income that's at least 1.5 times the wages of the highest-earning quarter

When evaluating your claim, the UIA will automatically use this method first. If you don't meet the requirements, it will move on to see if you qualify for the alternate base period.

Alternate Base Period

This method uses the four most recent quarters; a quarter must be complete to count. During the alternate base period, you must have:

  • Earned an income in at least two quarters
  • Made a total income that's 20 times Michigan's state average weekly wage (SAWW)

The SAWW is set by the state and changes every year.

Maintaining Your Eligibility for Unemployment in Michigan

Once the state grants you unemployment benefits, you'll need to do two things:

  • Verify eligibility every 2 weeks: To complete the verification process, simply call the Michigan Automated Response Voice Interactive Network (MARVIN) at 1-866-638-3993 or log in to your Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) account.

  • Actively search for work: Each week, you must let the UIA know about at least one job search. This can include applying for jobs, going to job fairs or attending job-search seminars.

If you don't complete these tasks on schedule, the UIA can't release your funds.

How Do You Apply for Michigan Unemployment Benefits?

When you get laid off, it's important to file an unemployment claim on time — ideally, by Friday of the week after your final day on the job. This ensures that your benefits will start right away. Can't file on time? As long as your claim date is less than 14 days from that Friday, the state will allow you to prove that you had a good cause for being late. When you're late by 14 days or more, your benefits will start the week you file.

Gather Required Documentation


  • Michigan driver's license or ID card
  • Alien Registration card and work authorization (where applicable)
  • Social Security card
  • Income information for the past 18 months
  • Employer names, addresses and employment dates
  • Federal Employer ID and Employer Account numbers for your last company

How to File an Unemployment Claim in Michigan


  • Start or re-open a claim: Create a MiWAM account and file online, or call 1-866-500-0017.

  • Choose a payment method: Michigan allows you to receive unemployment benefits by direct deposit or a special debit card issued by US Bank.

  • Register for work: Create a profile at PureMichigan Talent Connect. Then, meet with the team at your nearest service center for the Michigan Works! Agency to complete the process. They will verify your jobseeker profile and confirm it with the UIA. In some cases, you might be able to set up a virtual meeting.

  • Wait for approval: After your application is complete, the UIA will send you the Monetary Determination (Form UIA 1575C). It will tell you if you're approved, how much money you'll receive each week and how long you'll get the benefits.

  • Certify your eligibility: Once you're approved, use your MiWAM account to report job-search activities every week and verify that you're still eligible every 2 weeks.

How Much Do You Get From Michigan Unemployment?

The amount of money you can get from unemployment in Michigan depends on your income. To calculate the weekly payment — called the weekly benefit amount (WBA) — the state takes your highest-earning quarter and multiplies it by 4.1%. This payment is capped at $362, even if your income is higher.

Things that can affect your payment include:

  • Dependents: The state gives an extra $6 for each of your dependents, up to a maximum of five.

  • Child support: If you have court-ordered payments, Michigan has the right to reduce your WBA by a maximum of 65% to help cover that obligation.

  • Reason for leaving your job: If you quit or got fired, the UIA will investigate the situation. Some circumstances may reduce or eliminate your WBA; examples include misconduct, theft and destruction of property.

Unemployment benefits last between 14 and 20 weeks. The UIA refers to this period as your "qualifying weeks." To calculate how long your benefits will last, multiply your income in the base period by 43%. Then, divide it by your weekly benefit amount. If the number is a decimal, the UIA will round down to the closest half week; 18.7 would become 18.5 qualifying weeks.

After half of your qualifying weeks elapse, Michigan requires you to apply for and accept any suitable job. The UIA's criteria for "suitable" work are:

  • You can perform the duties physically
  • You have relevant education or experience
  • The company is located a reasonable distance from your home
  • The job pays at least the prevailing wage for the area and industry

Michigan allows a maximum of 20 benefit weeks per year, whether you file one claim or multiple claims.

What Happens If Unemployment Claims in Michigan Are Denied?

If you are denied unemployment benefits in Michigan, you have the right to appeal or protest the decision. First, you should register a protest within 30 days; you'll find instructions on the Monetary Determination Form UIA 1575C. The state will reassess your application and send you a redetermination of benefits. If you're still denied, you can appeal. This process includes a phone or in-person hearing with a judge from the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules.

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Talk to a licensed agent today to find a plan that fits your needs.

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