Unemployment in the US is now at record levels. As per the AFP, at least 30 million workers have lost their jobs since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. Michigan, like all states, has been left in crisis as a result of the pandemic, with thousands of residents now out of work and facing financial dire straits. While unemployment benefits can’t replace all lost earnings, it can make all the difference to those who’ve been left with no other source of income. If you’re a Michigan resident who’s lost their job, here’s how to get help.
Check Your Eligibility
The first thing to do after losing your job is to check your eligibility for unemployment.
Under normal circumstances, you’ll need to confirm that you:
- Have lost your job or suffered a loss in income through no fault of your own
- Are able and available to work
- Are actively seeking employment
Have earned enough over the base period to meet minimum income expectations. The base period is defined as the first four of the last five completed quarters before the date you filed your application. As per The Motley Fool, you will need to have earned wages in at least two of the four quarters in your base period. You will also need to have earned at least $3,589 in one quarter, with the total earned over the entire base period equating to at least 1.5 times your highest-earning quarter amount.
However, in light of the current situation, the work-search requirement has now been waived. If you’ve lost your job for any of the following reasons, you may still be eligible for unemployment benefits even if you are not available to work or not actively seeking employment.
- You are sick with COVID-19 or have been quarantined after exposure (a medical certificate will be required to prove exposure)
- You are caring for someone who is sick with COVID-19 or who has been quarantined after exposure
- You have been furloughed or forced to reduce your work hours work because of COVID-19
- Your workplace has been closed due to COVID-19
- You are not able to work because of school closures
- You cannot work because you have been ordered to shelter in place
- As a further shake-up to the previous eligibility guidelines, the self-employed, freelancers, and gig workers may now claim unemployment support for the first time.
Gather Your Information
Before you begin filing your claim, it’s worth spending a moment gathering all the documents and information you’ll need as part of the application. This includes:
- Your Social Security number
- Your driver’s license or state ID
- You bank account information if you choose to be paid by direct deposit
- Your employment history for the past 18 months, to include the name and address of each employer, your first and last day working day with each employer, gross earnings for each employment period, and your reason for separating
- Your address and a phone number you can be reached on during business hours
- Your date of birth
- Depending on your circumstances, you might also be asked to provide:
- Form SF-8 and SF50, if you’ve served as a federal employee within the last 18 months
- Form DD 214, if you’ve served on military duty within the last 18 months
- Details of any severance or holiday pay you have been or will be paid
- Your Alien registration and the expiration date of your work authorization card if you are not a US citizen
File Your Claim
Unemployment applicants in Michigan can file their claim by either:
- Calling 1-866-500-0017. Select Option 1 “to inquire about and to file a claim”.
- Creating an online account on the MiWAM portal
Due to the unprecedented number of applications being received at the moment, the state recommends you file online wherever possible to avoid lengthy call waiting times.
Verify Your Claim
Once you’ve logged your initial claim, you’ll need to continue verifying the claim on a bi-weekly basis for the duration of your unemployment. You can either verify the claims online through your MiWAM account or by calling MARVIN (1-866-638-3993) Monday thru Saturday, 8:00 am – 7:00 pm. Remember, the requirement to verify your claim starts immediately: even if you haven’t yet heard back on your initial claim, or have an appeal underway, keep verifying those claims to avoid any later problems in payment.
Check Your Entitlement
Unemployment benefits in Michigan are capped at a maximum of $362 per week, but your actual entitlement will depend on your previous earnings. If you have any dependents that you are at least 50% financially responsible for, you’ll be eligible to receive an extra $6 per dependent up to a maximum of 5 dependents.
The Department of Labor will issue a monetary determination to confirm your likely weekly benefit amount (WBA) after they’ve received your application. If you want to get an indication of your likely entitlement in advance, File Unemployment offers an online calculator to help. Once you’ve entered your earnings for the base period, along with any dependent information, the calculator will return an estimation of your WBA. Since the introduction of the CARES Act on March 27, unemployment applicants are now entitled to an additional $600 on top of what the state allows for a maximum of 4 months, or until the end of July.
Once the Department of Labor has reviewed your application, they’ll issue a Notice of Determination confirming whether your claim has been successful. If you disagree with the determination, you have the right to appeal the decision within 30 days of its mailing date. Instructions on how to file an appeal will be included with the determination. If your claim is successful, payment will follow by either direct bank deposit or debit card, depending on the preference you gave during your application.