Due to the massive volume of unemployment claims filed as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of Michigan has struggled to process claims on a timely basis. Technical challenges, lack of personnel to handle incoming phone calls, and new federal programs taxed their existing system and caused significant delays for people seeking unemployment benefits. Michigan has since quadrupled the number of personnel to process claims and handle phone calls, improving its ability to approve claims and pay out benefits.
The Michigan (MI) Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (DOLEO) oversees a variety of employment, housing, and economic development initiatives for the state. The Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) is tasked with carrying out the unemployment insurance program, including processing claims and paying benefits for the federally funded enhanced benefit programs. These have been extended several times after enactment last year. Jump to the relevant program extension to see more details around eligibility, payment dates/issues and weeks of coverage.
- 25-week Extension under Biden ARP Stimulus Bill (Mar 15, 2021 to Sep 4, 2021)
- 11-week Extension under CAA COVID Relief Bill (Dec 27, 2020 to Mar 14, 2021)
- $300 LWA program (August 1st, 2020 to Sep 5th, 2020)
- Original Programs under CARES act (Feb 2nd, 2020 to Dec 26, 2020)
- Filing a Claim and FAQs
Please also see the hundred of comments at the end of the article where people have shared their stories, tips and struggles getting paid under one or more of these programs.
25-week Unemployment Program Extensions Under Biden ARP Stimulus Package
Under President Biden’s $1.9 trillion federal coronavirus relief package, known as the American Rescue Plan (ARP), enhanced unemployment benefits will be extended until September 6th (week ending September 4th in Michigan). This includes the following extensions:
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – The PUA program, designed for freelancers, gig workers and independent contractors or those that generally don’t qualify for regular state unemployment, has been extended by another 29 weeks (though actual weeks covered is 25). This brings the total number of weeks in the program to 79. The minimum PUA payment is still 50% of a states average weekly benefit amount and limited to the state’s maximum weekly benefit amount (WBA).
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) – The new stimulus bill funds another 25 weeks of weekly supplementary/extra unemployment at the current $300 level. Payments for the $300 weekly payment will continue until early September for a total of 25 weeks and eligible claimants – those getting at least $1 from state and federal unemployment programs – can get a maximum of $7,500 if they qualify for all weeks covered in this new extension. The other $100 supplementary payment for Mixed Earners (MEUC) was also extended by 25 weeks.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) – The PEUC program, which extends coverage for those who have exhausted regular and extended state unemployment, has also been extended for another 29 weeks (though actual weeks covered is 25), bringing the total amount of PEUC coverage to 53 weeks.
There also provisions in the Biden Stimulus package for Unemployment tax breaks on the first $10,200 of benefits.
Payment Status of 25-week Extensions in Michigan – Latest News and Status on PUA, PEUC and $300 FPUC
Once the bill is signed into law by President Biden, the Department of Labor (DOL) will prepare and issue formal guidelines for states to implement the 25-week extensions. There could be a lapse in benefits as the CAA program coverage may end before states can update their program/systems to enable the 25-week of extensions funded under the ARP Program. I will post updates as they are released so stay tuned via the options below.
Claimants should continue to submit certifications as usual until the MI UIA implements the extensions. Contacting the UIA customer service number regarding the new legislation will not yield any additional information. I will post updates as the UIA releases additional information and you can follow via the options below.
Extended Benefits Program
The State’s Extended Benefits (EB) program, which is mostly federally funded, has also ended now as Michigan is no longer considered to be in a period of high unemployment. EB is triggered when a state’s jobless rate averages more than 8% for three consecutive months. This program provided up to 13 weeks of additional benefits and for claimants who have already been paid their maximum weeks of EB, their EB claim is considered exhausted and there are no more weeks of benefits under that program available. New claims cannot be filed for EB benefits either and job less workers would need to rely on the latest round of stimulus funded extensions.
2021 Unemployment Program Extensions Under COVID Relief Bill
The $900 billion COVID-19 relief package or Continued Assistance Act (CAA) was passed into law on Dec. 27, 2020, which among several other pandemic relief measures extends and provides additional federal funding for enhanced unemployment benefits. This includes the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and a reinstatement, but halving of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Program which provides a $300 supplemental weekly unemployment payment.
These programs have been funded and extended for 11 weeks (on top of any state funded extensions), covering the weeks of December 27th, 2020 to March 14th, 2021. To receive the extra $300 FPUC weekly benefit, you must be receiving UI, PEUC, EB, or PUA for that given week.
Michigan (MI) UIA Payment Updates on 2021 Extensions – Latest News and Status on PUA, PEUC and $300 FPUC
Feb 21st Update: The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency has completed ALL system updates for the extended federal unemployment insurance (UI) programs under the CAA. All Eligible Claimants can now certify, reopen claims or apply for the extended 11 weeks of PUA and PEUC benefits funded under the CAA. This includes claims that had been exhausted once the original CARES Act weeks had expired. Claimants will be notified by UIA that they may apply for the extended programs beginning January 30. I have summarized the latest UIA guidance in the chart below. You can also see this video for MI PUA and PEUC updates.
If you notice any further delays of have any questions, leave a comment below. Otherwise stay tuned for further updates and possible 2021 extensions.
Jan 29th update: UIA is still in the process of programming new system changes necessary to begin additional payments for PEUC and PUA claimants who have exhausted their benefit allowance on or before Dec. 26, 2020. The target date to complete the changes necessary to implement the additional 11 weeks on all PEUC and PUA claims is Jan. 30, 2021. Certification and payments will likely start flowing the week after that.
Claimants who did not exhaust their original 13 weeks of PEUC or their original 39 weeks of PUA will be able to claim the balance of remaining weeks beginning with the week ending Jan. 2, 2021. Payments will include the additional $300 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefit. However once they use up their benefit weeks, they will need to wait till the UIA makes their system updates to claim the extra 11 weeks.
From January 12th, the Michigan UIA has started issuing $300 weekly payments to claimants on regular state unemployment insurance (UI) and Extended Benefit programs. Claimants do not need to take any action to receive this additional weekly benefit, it will be paid automatically after certification.
From January 17th, those who were getting UI benefits under the PEUC and PUA and had benefit weeks remaining on their claim as of Dec. 26, 2020 (“active claimants”), can now begin certifying their claims through their MiWAM accounts. They will be able to claim the balance of remaining weeks beginning with the week ending Jan. 2, 2021. Payments will automatically include the additional $300 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefit.
Claimants who Exhausted Benefits. Jobless workers on PUA or PEUC) who had exhausted their balances/weeks remaining prior to or on Dec 26, 2020 continue to have no actions to take at this time. Certifications and payments will not be issued for weeks after Dec. 26, 2020 until technical updates to the UI system are completed. The Michigan Labor Department is actively working on updates to their systems to extend benefits and renew the FPUC $300 supplemental payments to this group of claimants. They will be made whole once the extensions are fully implemented. You can see more on the $300 payment in this video tracking state payments.
UI claimants with existing or expired claim balances should be aware of the following general guidelines:
- PUA and PEUC, FPUC will be automatically added to the claimants’ benefits if they are eligible for the weeks outlined in the new legislation.
- Claimants with weeks remaining in UI should continue to file weekly claims (where possible)
- Claimants who will have additional weeks in UI and PUA or PEUC due to state provisions (where applicable) should watch their state agency UI portal or website for updates that will allow additional weeks to be filed.
- Claimants will be retroactively caught up on payments for all weeks they are eligible.
- Claimants currently receiving benefits through the Extended Benefits program must finish all weeks of EB before receiving additional weeks of PEUC.
Extra $300 Unemployment under Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program – NOW EXPIRED
The Michigan DOL/UIA has completed paying out on the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program which provided an additional $300 per week to Michiganders who are unemployed due to COVID-19. Claimants whose current weekly benefit amount (WBA) is at least $100 received the additional $300 per week retroactive to the week ending August 1, 2020.
As of September 10th, the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has started processing payments for Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) for eligible Michiganders. Due to the large volume of payments to be processed, workers will begin receiving LWA payments over the next week to ten days (to the end of September).
Payment Delays: MI Unemployment had a system crash last month and are trying to implement the self-certify questionnaire for UI claimants not on PUA. It was explained that when the LWA was first implemented it only mentioned/included PUA claimants as eligible. Since then, it has been realized that many UI claims need to be able to certify that they are off due to Covid also. They are now figuring out how to include these claims and get those under UI certified for the LWA. So you could be seeing delays because of this. See more on the MI LWA page.
The new Lost Wages program however does cut the federal benefit ($600 FPUC) in half for Michiganders since the state cannot afford to boost the benefit by the additional $100 state contribution requested by Trump.
COVID 19 Enhanced Benefits Under the CARES Act
Under the CARES act, there are three types of federal unemployment assistance available:
• Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): expands eligibility for individuals who are typically ineligible for Unemployment benefits, including independent contractors, self-employed, and “gig” workers. Recipients may receive up to 39 weeks of benefits under this program.
• Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC): adds $600 per week in addition to the regular benefits that recipients of Unemployment Insurance are entitled to receive; the benefit is retroactive to the week ending April 4, 2020, and the program expired on July 25, 2020. This program has now expired; however, the UIA includes the following on their website;
“While the President has enacted a series of executive orders regarding unemployment benefits, this program has not yet been implemented. All states are currently awaiting guidance from the US Department of Labor regarding implementation. There is no further information at this time. Stay tuned for updates.” a series of executive orders regarding unemployment benefits, this program has not yet
• Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC): provides an additional 13 weeks of Unemployment benefits to recipients of regular unemployment insurance.
The continued rise in the state’s unemployment rate caused Michigan to trigger 13 weeks of extended state benefits to those who have exhausted all other state and federal unemployment aid without returning to work permanently. The Extended Benefit (EB) program was triggered on April 26, 2020. The EB program runs through December 26 and applies to unemployed individuals who have exhausted regular unemployment and PEUC benefits, whichever is later.
Web and/or phone issues with accessing the Michigan Unemployment system
Lack of personnel, technical difficulties, and the high volume of claims filed due to the coronavirus have strained Michigan’s unemployment system. Due to the unprecedented number of claims, the UIA encourages filing online. To speed up the online process, it is recommended that claims be filed online during the non-peak hours between 8:00 PM and 8:00 AM. The UIA acknowledges that load times may be slow on the website. They suggest giving pages time to load instead of clicking on links multiple times.
Existing Claimants: Claimants receiving unemployment benefits due to the coronavirus emergency must continue to certify every two weeks to receive the additional FPUC $600/week benefit. The extra $600/week compensation is retroactive to the week ending April 4 and ends on July 25. FPUC payments are automatically added to the weekly benefit payment. The UIA began issuing FPUC payments on April 10. Upon exhausting regular and PEUC benefits, eligible claimants must apply for the EB program. Existing claimants should track their current balance online to determine when to apply for EB.
Filing a Claim
You must create a new account through the Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) here if you are filing a claim for the first time. Once you have created a username and password, log on to access online benefit services to complete your application.
Existing claimants can log in here to file their weekly claims. The days that you may file a claim online or over the phone are based on the first letter of your last name. You can then check the status of your claim here.
To receive unemployment benefits, you must certify for benefits every two weeks. Certifications can be done online or over the phone. The certification schedule is based on the first letter of your last name. If you fail to certify during the reporting week, you need to tell the UIA as to why you are late as they determine if you are eligible to receive benefits for those two weeks. If you do not have good cause for filing late, your benefits may be denied for that period.
If there is a problem with your claim that must be resolved before benefits can be paid, or if you have been denied benefits and are appealing the determination, you must still certify for and claim your benefits on time. If it is determined that you are eligible or if you win your appeal, you will be paid these benefits retroactively. However, if you have not claimed benefits and you win your appeal, you will not be paid for these weeks.
If you need help filing your claim or with online services, call toll-free (866) 500-0017 (Monday – Friday 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM; Saturday 7:00 AM – 2:00 PM)
To apply online for Unemployment Insurance benefits (recommended), you must have:
- Worked in Michigan in the last 18 months
- Worked for a covered employer that paid in UI
You can also apply by phone.
If applying online, you will need the following information:
- Social Security Number
- Driver’s license or state identification card
- Current address, phone number, and date of birth
- Employment history for the past 18 months including;
- Employers’ business names and addresses
- First and last date that you worked for each employer
- Reason you are no longer working for each employer
- Your most recent employer’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) account number or Federal ID number (which is found on your W-2 form)
- Alien Registration number and the date your work authorization expires if you are not a US citizen
I filed my unemployment claim several weeks ago. Will I receive back pay once my claim is approved?
The UIA continues to work through unemployment claims filed under the programs enacted by the Cares Act. Although the UIA has improved the turnaround time for its claim processing, there are still many outstanding claims that have not been processed. The FPUC $600 per week additional benefit expired during the week of July 25. If you have filed an unemployment claim before that date and are still awaiting a response regarding your eligibility for unemployment, you will receive retroactive payments for the back weeks of FPUC even if the decision is not made until after the July 25 expiration date. If you are not eligible for regular unemployment, you may be able to collect benefits under the PUA program. To determine if you are eligible to participate, you must complete a PUA application. Once your eligibility is determined, instructions will be sent to your MiWAM account as to how to file weekly claims. If you were eligible for PUA benefits for weeks that have already passed, you would be able to file weekly claims and recover back pay due to you.
Can I collect unemployment benefits if my employer reduced my hours to part-time?
According to the UIA, individuals who are partially unemployed due to a reduction of hours may be able to collect unemployment benefits. Recipients that work less than a combined 32 hours per week for all employers and earn less than $500 may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits.
Why did I receive a stop payment indicator notice on my account?
The UIA has taken additional steps to prevent identity theft and fraud attempts on the state’s unemployment program. To protect claimants, additional information may be requested to verify identity and eligibility. Claimants who receive this notice on their account will be emailed instructions advising them how to submit the requested information to receive your benefits. If you have not received this notice, there is no need to act at this time.
“Stop Payment Indicator” Notice. If you received a “Stop Payment Indicator” notice on your account, detailed instructions have been emailed and mailed to you on how to submit additional identifying information in order to receive your benefits. There is no reason to take further action until you receive the instructions.
See additional FAQ from the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity about employment benefits