How to apply for unemployment benefits in Michigan amid coronavirus crisis

unemployment line

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer expanded unemployment benefits this week due to the coronavirus crisis. (Shutterstock image)

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order extending unemployment insurance benefits to workers who are home caring for sick relatives or taking care of their children during the coronavirus pandemic.  Also, anyone losing work as a result of the crisis is advised to apply. 

Whitmer’s executive order extends unemployment benefits to workers who have an “unanticipated family care responsibility,” including child care responsibilities because of school closures. It also covers workers who are sick, quarantined or immunocompromised but do not have paid medical leave or are laid off, along with first responders who become ill or are quarantined because of the exposure to COVID-19.

Online applications are recommended because of increased call volumes in the past week, but those seeking to file a claim for benefits can also call 1-866-500-0017 to apply.

Because of the large increase in working families seeking unemployment benefits, the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has developed a schedule for workers to file for benefits based on the first letter of their last name:

Online Filing Schedule -

  • Last names beginning with letters A-L are asked to file claims on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays.
  • Last names beginning with letters M-Z are asked to file claims on Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays.
  • Saturdays will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window. 

Call Center Filing Schedule - 866-500-0017:

  • Last names beginning with letters A-L are asked to call on Mondays and Wednesdays between  8:00am – 5:00pm.
  • Last names beginning with letters M-Z are asked to call on Tuesdays and Thursdays between  8:00am – 5:00pm.
  • Fridays (8:00am – 5:00pm) will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.

To file a claim, you need:

  • Your Social Security Number, driver's license number, state identification or MARVIN PIN (if you have one)
  • If you are not a U.S. citizen or national, you will need your alien registration number and the expiration date of your work authorization.
  • Names and addresses of employers you have worked for in the past 18 months, including quarterly gross earnings and the last date of employment with each.

Your application for benefits will be evaluated to determine whether you are eligible for benefits and how much money you may receive. 

Michigan increased unemployment benefits for workers to 26 weeks on March 16 as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The day or time of day in which a claim is filed will not impact whether a worker receives benefits or their benefit amount. Additionally, claims will be back-dated to reflect the date in which a claimant was laid-off or let go from their job due to COVID-19. The eligibility window to apply has also been increased from 14 to 28 days from the date of their work stoppage.

The recently passed federal CARES act will extend Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Compensation to self-employed, 1099-independent contractors, gig and low-wage workers in Michigan. Guidance and information about this program will soon be available on the state of Michigan’s website.

​The state also expanded a work-share program for qualifying business that could help avoid mass layoffs by splitting the cost of employees. A participating business could scale back worker hours and ask unemployment insurance to make up the difference in lost pay.

Employers with questions about workers’ unemployment may contact Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency, Office of Employer Ombudsman at 1-855-484-2636.

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Thu, 03/19/2020 - 6:41pm

The state faq link is NOT a list of frequently asked questions, it is a "fact sheet".

Fri, 03/20/2020 - 10:10am

This "fact" on the Fact Sheet above is NO LONGER in effect:
If you become unemployed, you may qualify for unemployment insurance benefits. These benefits are intended to provide temporary income as you seek new employment. To be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must be unemployed and able to, available for, and actively seeking suitable full-time work.

Sat, 03/28/2020 - 4:16pm

Nope, you currently do not have to be seeking a job.

Sat, 04/04/2020 - 1:28pm

You do not have to currently be seeking employment ,they've changed that and why did they change it? because they know that there's virtually no jobs out there to be had right now with the statewide stay-at-home order. So unless you can get a job in one of the essential markets that are left open then they know that you're going to stay at home and need your unemployment money

Bobbie Manna
Mon, 03/23/2020 - 10:28am

My husband has tried to call the unemployment line and tried to do it on line for 2 days and has not been able to .Is there another number or website for help ?

Thu, 03/26/2020 - 4:25pm

Go to and look for employment, then employee. Click around.

Mon, 03/30/2020 - 9:03pm

We could not get through either, so we started trying online after 8pm. I read somewhere that the site traffic is much less between 8pm and 8am.

andrea herkel
Mon, 03/23/2020 - 10:33am

I have been trying since last week to apply it won’t let me get passed the initial authentication code. Once I hit send code it never sends. I have the right username and password and have tried to change it to send an email or answer questions and it still won’t let me get passed it.

Mon, 03/23/2020 - 1:28pm

Whitmer is just another incompetent neoliberal bureaucrat nitpicking everything. Why are they singling out people without kids? They pay rent too. The unemployment system couldn't handle 2008. It sure as hell can't handle this. What arrangements has she made to help people who need money? Not a GD thing. This is how we get people like Snyder and the GOP in office.

Tue, 03/24/2020 - 11:38am

Then see if you can get money from old comb over himself Trump. The mist incompetent unqualified bacon I have ever seen. Better yet, go apply at Amazon they are exempt and hiring or are you just another bum looking for a hand out

Kelly Fowler
Mon, 03/23/2020 - 1:33pm

My sister in-law is a full time server. It is her family’s only income. She applied for unemployment and was denied because she was $200 shy of the amount needed to collect. What can she do in this situation?

Mon, 03/30/2020 - 7:28pm

Today they said those who fell short on income requirements should reapply they will qualify now

Mon, 03/23/2020 - 6:02pm

I’m stuck at home watching the kids, my work is still open though. What option do i choose for reason of separation?

Eric Young
Tue, 03/24/2020 - 11:51pm

Cannot get on website. Crashed. Will have to go to office

Lee ann
Wed, 03/25/2020 - 9:26am

How can chiropractors and PMR doctors who give steroid injections be considered essential healthcare because they are opened and putting everyone in jeopardy? Oakland and Macomb counties.

Wed, 03/25/2020 - 10:48am

I have stage 4 prostate cancer. I'm currently doing chemotherapy. I'm at a high risk. My girlfriend works as a crisis social worker. She comes in contact with people everyday. They don't have n95 masks to wear. Can she collect unemployment since we live together? Her job is not safe. Were worried that she might bring coronavirus home. I can't get sick.

Thu, 03/26/2020 - 9:49am

how long does it take to get unemployment from Michigan due to the COVID-19

Fri, 03/27/2020 - 10:34am

So I filed for unemployment like I was told to do so. I received a letter today stating I was denied because I didn’t have earnings in 2 of the quarters. So my question is, since it’s the end of the 1st quarter of 2020 and I will then in fact have 2 quarters of earnings. Do I try to re file when March is over (4 whopping days away) or am I screwed and receive absolutely nothing? Surprise the 2nd time in my life ever filing for unemployment and both times I have been denied! And of course the only time in 20 years I didn’t have a full time job would be in the year prior to a shutdown that I had absolutely no control over.

Fri, 03/27/2020 - 9:17pm

I do not understand it, everything I read states if we are laid off due to this virus we qualify for unemployment yet I was denied. So I am being punished and screwed with no income . This is bullshit I didnt ask to not work, I work 2 jobs in the restaurant industry. Now I am unemployed and no income. Thanks Michigan for nothing.

Sat, 03/28/2020 - 10:22pm

I've worked in the service industry same place for 23 years..yet was denied unemployment saying I didn't make enough to receive benefits also many coworkers and from what I understand many of us in this industry also denied...the governor needs to change this....
Sat, 03/28/2020 - 10:49am

If you are a daycare provider and lost children that you normally are paid to watch because parents are now staying home, can you apply for unemployment and if so how?

Sun, 03/29/2020 - 11:13am

So I signed up for unemployment benefits. When I answer the questions on Marvin or On the website, how do I answer the questions about available for work, job seeking and information related? The reason I ask this is because of the stay at home order from the Governor and that part supposedly being waved. If I answer no to the question because that is the case right now, will I'm not get the benefits?

Mike Bruce
Tue, 03/31/2020 - 7:41am

My son has a Michigan drivers license that has expired, with no way to renew it at this time. Can it still be used to file for unemployment benefits.

Tue, 03/31/2020 - 8:41am

Good luck trying to get any benefits if you are self employed. The state shut down my business. The federal bill allows for self employed to get money, but I was denied and can't get a hold of anybody to make it right. Why would they deny someone without ever contacting them? Who ever is making those decisions should be fired.

Tue, 03/31/2020 - 7:36pm

So my wife applied for unemployment yesterday and was denied because she fell 72 dollars short of the minimum quarterly earnings. I thought due to the new federal stimulus she would qualify. So now she I slayed off. No unemployment. We basically are screwed. Looks like witless whitmer strikes again

Wed, 04/01/2020 - 11:31am

Just got notified no unemployment for me either due to not enough income. Been laid off since the schools were closed. Thought the new rule was for the lower income people. Of course, cannot get through on the customer service phone line. DID I JUST SAY CUSTOMER SERVICE??

Sat, 05/09/2020 - 1:36pm

You and your wife probably fall under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance that was available starting April 14 or so. I am self-employed, kind of fit the "gig" worker description. I was approved under this application; however, I haven't seen any payments yet. I printed out the acceptance letter so I have proof they said I should receive payments!

Jeff Wilson
Fri, 04/03/2020 - 2:54pm

Having same issue with need an authorization code. I click to send text, but never received. I tried for 4 hrs. I also called the following morning repeatedly, and get hung up on. No email link or site help

Mon, 04/06/2020 - 10:43am

Please understand we need that stimulat package in addition to our unemployment my husband is the only worker I am 64 and in poor health do you really think our bills will get paid or our medicines filled I am already going to church food bank to eat no food stamps here HELP UNEMPLOYED PLEASE

Judith Kromis
Mon, 04/06/2020 - 11:40am

The website for filing unemployment keeps timing out and not allowing me to complete the application. When will this be fixed?

Lisa Cragg
Wed, 04/08/2020 - 4:15pm

Applied Mar 13 and my claim is still pending spend three to four hours a day trying to get a hold of live chat and phone. Got ahold of live chat last week told everything set. I need to certify this week. This week no certification again. I have fax grand rapids four time. Called a million still not resolved.
They should turn all these Michigan Works into unemployment call centers.

Mon, 04/13/2020 - 3:52pm

The Trillions and Billions very tough to get a few of the crumbs especially if you are trying unemployment or the so called small business grants and loans. Looks great on TV when Trump or Whitmer talk about the huuge benefits for the public but in reality a totally different scenario. In the end the rich and well connected will benefit and most will be lucky to get a few of the dollars reimbursed that you have already paid over the years.

John E
Tue, 04/14/2020 - 10:35pm

Trying to apply for unemployment as a 1099. I am required to provide my employers EIN number. Since I am 1099, I don’t have an employer. Should I select the option that “I don’t know “?

Grace Westfall
Tue, 04/21/2020 - 9:22am

Well, we have the phone number for filing for unemployment, we need a phone number for receiving assistance when we are still waiting 5 weeks later for the money to be deposited. The 866 500 0017 is NOT a help num
ber. I have even contacted 2 different state representatives for help to no avail.

Fri, 04/24/2020 - 8:37am

Are unemployment offices open to file in person during coronavirus shutdowns?

J Garnett
Sat, 04/25/2020 - 9:59am

Thank you Governor Whitmer for your diligence and perseverance. The stay at home, wearing masks and social distancing has helped Michigan stay safe.

Mon, 04/27/2020 - 9:20am

been trying for at least 2 weeks now to get help with my claim because i got a letter saying i'm approved but still no payments yet it'd been since march 31st that it was approved

Dave Murray
Thu, 05/07/2020 - 12:14pm

My wife applied April 6, was told everything was in order, has filed claims since, been confirmed, and she has received nothing.

Amanda Fox
Wed, 07/22/2020 - 8:30am

My husband has been trying to get his unemployment since March 20th. The state has been No Help, nobody answers the phone, has he presses options and then it hangs up, no response through the online site, sent forms in, no phone calls ,no response. This is absurd!!!!
This has been going on since March we are now in the middle of July of 2020. Something needs to be done!!!!