If you’re one of the millions who have lost their job or had their income affected in Michigan as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s worth reviewing your eligibility for Unemployment Insurance benefit before you start eating into your savings. Whereas you would only have previously been eligible for unemployment if you could demonstrate you were able to work and actively seeking employment, the unprecedented situation that’s arisen from the crisis, both from a health and economic perspective, has resulted in a major shakeup of the old rules. Further to the introduction of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, the government has sunk an extraordinary $2 trillion into expanding the unemployment benefits package and providing relief to those most in need. Investopedia breaks down some of the chief aspects of the act as per the following:
- Tax rebates of up to $1,200 per taxpayer, and $500 for every dependent
- Forgivable, subsidized loans for impacted small businesses
- Ongoing financial support to students, schools, and colleges
- A stabilization of money market mutual funds
With regards to the provisions most applicable to those seeking Unemployment Insurance benefits, the key highlights include:
- A supplementary $600 per week, across the board payment for anyone claiming unemployment benefit, until the end of July
- An additional 13 weeks of benefits beyond what the state allows, until the end of July
- Unemployment benefits for the self-employed and independent contractors
- A waiving of the 7-day, unpaid waiting period for claimants affected by COVID-19
As one of the most heavily impacted states, the number of applicants claiming unemployment in Michigan has risen exponentially. If you’re among those affected, it’s worth checking how the CARES act may affect your eligibility for benefits.
Am I Eligible to Claim Unemployment Benefit?
In response to the current situation, the state has relaxed some of its criteria for determining unemployment benefit eligibility. In a change to the previous guidelines, you will no longer need to demonstrate you are able to work or are actively seeking employment. You will, however, still need to be able to demonstrate that you have worked in Michigan for the past 18 months and that your previous income/ worked hours meet the minimum guidelines. If your work situation has been impacted by COVID-19, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits if you can demonstrate any of the below:
- You are sick with COVID-19 or in quarantine because of exposure to COVID-19 (a medical certificate will be requested in validation).
- You are caring for someone who is either sick with COVID-19 or in quarantine after exposure to COVID-19.
- You are self-employed, a freelancer, or a contractor whose income has been affected COVID-19.
- You have been laid off or asked to work reduced hours because of COVID-19.
- Your workplace has been closed due to COVID-19 and you are unable to work off-site.
- You cannot work because of COVID-19 related school closures and are unable to make suitable alternative childcare arrangements.
- You cannot work because you have been ordered to shelter in place.
What Do I Need to File a Claim?
As part of your application, you’ll be asked to provide certain documents and information to help the department establish your eligibility. Before starting your claim, make sure you have all the below to hand:
- Social Security number
- Work History for the past 18 months, to include employer name and address, first/last day worked/ gross earnings
- Your address, phone number, and date of birth
- Non-Citizens Alien registration and the expiration date of your work authorization card (if applicable)
- Driver’s License or State ID
- Your most recent employer’s federal employer ID number and employer account number, if possible
- Bank account information for direct deposit
How Do I Apply For Unemployment in Michigan?
Once you’ve gathered and prepared all the required documents for your application, you can file your claim in one of two ways:
- By calling 1-866-500-0017. Select Option 1 “to inquire about and to file a claim”
- Online at michigan.gov/uia using the MiWAM portal.
Due to high call volumes, you’ll probably find the option to file the claim online the quickest and easiest. As soon as you log your claim, you will need to begin certifying your unemployed status every week either online through your MiWAM account or by phoning MARVIN (1-866-638-3993) Monday-Saturday 8:00 am – 7:00 pm. You will need to certify your claim even while your application is under review.
How Much Will I Get?
The amount of Unemployment Insurance benefits you will be entitled to claim will depend on your previous earnings. The maximum amount per individual is $362 per week. You may also receive an extra $6 per dependent (up to a maximum of 5) if you have provided at least 50% of their financial support over the past quarter.
If you want a heads up on what you can expect in benefits, File Unemployment has a handy online calculator that will crunch the numbers for you: simply enter your earnings for the past year, along with how many dependents you have financial responsibly for, and the calculator will give you an estimate of your entitlement. Remember, whatever figure it lands on will be an estimate only: your actual entitlement may be different.
Under the CARES act, you will be entitled to receive a supplementary $600 for up to four months on top of your usual state benefits. If you have already submitted your application, you do not need to resubmit to benefit. The Department will issue the payment separately from your usual benefits payment, backdated to the week ending 29th March.
Can I Appeal If My Application is Refused?
If your application is denied, you’ll receive a written statement to that effect within 21 days of filing your claim. If you do not agree with the decision, you can log an appeal (instructions on how to do so will be included in the letter) within 30 days of the mailing date of the determination.
How Will I Be Paid?
Payments are made every two weeks by one of two methods:
- Direct deposit through your bank or credit union – you will need to provide your routing number and account number for payments to be made using this method.
- UIA Bank of America debit card