New Rules for Unemployment (COVID-19)

UPDATE No. 2 - New Rules for Unemployment during (COVID-19)

 UIA begins processing claims for low wage workers and others who were previously ineligible.

As noted in the last update, federal law has temporarily expanded eligibility for unemployment benefits to many who were previously ineligible.  On April 20, the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) began processing these Federal Pandemic Unemployment Act (PUA) benefits to include many claimants who were previously ineligible under existing law.  This includes workers who have run out of benefits, whose earnings were too low to qualify, independent contractors, self-employed and “gig” workers.  While this expanded group of eligible claimants likely does not include most BAC members it may include some of their family members.  The benefit amount is $600 plus a minimum of $160 and a maximum $318 depending on proof of earnings.  Even without proof earnings, an eligible individual may be entitled to a federally funded state minimum benefit of $160 for up to 39 weeks in addition to the $600 federal PUA benefit (which is payable through July 31, 2020). 

Details on who is eligible and how to apply can be found at the following links:

https://www.michigan.gov//documents/leo/COVID-CARES_Act_4-13_686881_7.pdf

https://www.michigan.gov/leo/0,5863,7-336-78421_97241_98585_98650-525471--,00.html

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UPDATE on EXPANDED BENEFITS - March 31, 2020 

Under the CARES Act signed into law on Friday, March 27, 2020, unemployment benefits have been further expanded. 

An additional $600 benefit, on top of the regular benefit, will be paid to all eligible claimants through July 31, 2020.  You do not need to reapply or take any additional steps.  If you have a pending or active claim, this amount will simply be added to your benefit.

Benefit weeks are now extended for up to 39 weeks, up from the 26 weeks currently available.

The above benefits are available to all eligible unemployed workers, whether or not the reason for unemployment is because of the COVID-19 pandemic.   

In addition benefits are now temporarily expanded to cover those who would not otherwise be eligible such as low wage workers who are unable to work because of the pandemic.

NEW GUIDELINES FOR WHEN TO APPLY

As explained previously, because of extraordinarily high numbers of people applying, applicants are still experiencing busy signals and long wait times when calling, and difficulty with pages loading when applying online.  UIA still recommends applying online as the fastest and most efficient method, and asks for your patience while its systems are upgraded.  Benefits will be retroactive to the date of unemployment even if there is delay in applying.  UIA recommends applying during off-peak times, from 8 pm to 8 am.

Also, in order to better manage traffic, UIA is asking people to apply on certain days, based on the beginning letter of your last name, as follows:

For those filing online:

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

For those filing  by phone (866-500-0017):

  • Last names beginning with letters A-L are asked to call on Mondays or Wednesdays between 8 am and 5 pm
  • Last names beginning with letters M-Z are asked to call on Tuesdays or Thursdays between 8 am and 5 pm
  • Fridays (8 am to 5 pm) are available for anyone to call in order to accommodate those who could not file during their regular window

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Many of you may find yourselves temporarily unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

We are providing the following information to help you apply for unemployment benefits to which you may be entitled. Governor Whitmer has issued two executive orders, most recently on March 26, 2020, which expand eligibility, waive certain procedural rules, and increase the number of weeks you can collect benefits. Also, under the new federal CARES Act that was just signed into law on Friday March 27, 2020, the amount of unemployment benefit amounts will be increased.  We are still studying the details and will update to provide more details soon. 

WHAT ARE THE NEW REASONS FOR ELIGIBILITY?

Eligibility has been expanded to cover those who are out of work for the following reasons:

  1. Having elevated risk from COVID-19 for being immunocompromised;
  2. Displaying symptoms of COVID-19;
  3. Having contact in the last 14 days with someone with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis;
  4. Needing to care for someone with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis; or
  5. Having a family care responsibility as a result of a government directive (i.e., childcare responsibilities arising from school closings).

This applies whether you are laid off due to COVID-19, or if you take a temporary leave of absence, so long as you were not already on sick leave or receiving disability benefits.

HOW LONG CAN I COLLECT BENEFITS?

The time for receiving benefits has been extended from 20 weeks to 26 weeks.  This includes anyone who already has an active claim in progress.  Active claims will be extended to 26 weeks, and new claims will now be paid for 26 weeks. 

HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO FILE? IF I FILE TOO LATE WILL I LOSE BENEFITS?

The time to file has been extended from 14 days to 28 days. As long as you file within 28 days of being unemployed, you will not lose benefits.  The benefits will be paid retroactively.  Be patient. If you have trouble signing up at first, you will not lose benefits as long as you apply within 28 days. 

WILL I HAVE TO LOOK FOR WORK WHILE RECEIVING BENEFITS?

No. The state has temporarily waived the seeking work requirement.  You will not have to prove that you are looking for work.  You will still have to recertify every two weeks, but this just means logging on to the internet or phone system every two weeks to certify that you are still seeking benefits.  You will not be asked whether or where you have been seeking work.

DO THESE NEW RULES APPLY EVEN IF I AM OFF WORK FOR A “TRADITIONAL” REASON SUCH AS LACK OF WORK?

Yes. These new rules apply whether you are unemployed for one of the COVID-19 related reasons stated above, or If you are laid off due to lack of work or for any other reason which would normally entitle you to unemployment benefits.  This includes if you are laid off because your employer has been required to suspend or cut back operations due to the Governor’s “Stay at Home” order issued on March 23, 2020, EO 2020-21, entitled “Temporary Requirement to Suspend Activities that are Not Necessary to Sustain or Protect Life.” 

FOR WHAT TIME PERIOD ARE THE ENHANCED RULES AND BENEFITS IN EFFECT?

The latest executive order, EO 2020-24 is effective from March 16, 2020 to April 22, 2020.

HOW DO I APPLY?

As explained below, you can apply by telephone or on the state website. The telephone number is 866-500-0017, select Option 1 “to inquire about and to file a claim.”  The State recommends applying on the website as the fastest method. Because of the extremely large and unprecedented number of claims coming in, it may temporarily be difficult to get through by phone and you may experience busy signals and/or long wait times on hold.  The website may be slow and it may take a long time for pages to load. But it will work.  The State is working hard to upgrade the system to handle the increased demand.  Please be patient!

Everything you need to know about applying is on the State of Michigan website.

A link to a one page document that outlines the basics is here

A link to the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) main web page, which provides answers to many questions and links to start the application process is here:

https://www.michigan.gov/leo/0,5863,7-336-78421_97241_98585---,00.html

A link to UIA Fact sheet 160, which explains the information you will need to start the process and set up an account, is here:

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/uia/160_-_Claiming_UI_Benefit_In_Michigan_-_Jan2014_444213_7.pdf

You will need to set up a MIWAM (Michigan Web Account Manager) and MiLogin account as part of the process.  A link for the main page to do that is here:

https://miwam.unemployment.state.mi.us/ClmMiWAM/_/

 

 

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