How to Get an Unemployment Extension in Michigan

Aerial view - Detroit Michigan
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Like most states, Michigan's basic unemployment program offers eligible, unemployed residents up to 20 weeks of benefits. These are intended as a sort of temporary salary until the worker finds a new job.

In some cases, Michigan residents can qualify for extended benefits, such as additional weeks of unemployment compensation. Anyone running out of Michigan benefits should get an overview of the extended benefits offered.

Michigan Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment benefits (UI) in Michigan, like in other states, are funded indirectly by employers in the state. They must pay unemployment tax based partly on the number of employees they have working in the state, and partly on the number of UI claims filed by their employees.

The tax monies are put into the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund from which UI benefits are paid. Employees are eligible to receive financial payments if they lose their jobs.

Regular unemployment compensation in Michigan is intended to provide a source of funding to individuals who have lost work through no fault of their own. Generally, claimants cannot get benefits unless they are able to work, available to work and actively seeking full-time work. The state imposes a requirement that the worker has earned a certain minimum wage in the recent past in order to qualify.

Duration of Michigan UI Benefits

An individual who qualifies for unemployment benefits in Michigan is assigned a "benefits year," that runs for 52 weeks starting from the date of the claim. As long as they continue to qualify for UI benefits, they get weekly benefit checks. The size of the benefit amount depends on the worker's recent wages.

Regular UI benefits in Michigan cannot exceed 26 weeks in the 52 week benefits year. But the state or federal government sometimes offers extended UI benefits to those who have exhausted their benefits.

Extensions Under Times of Turmoil

The federal government may, in times of financial turmoil, extend the number of UI weeks available under one of several programs, including the Emergency Unemployment Compensation, 2008 (EUC08), and the Federal-State Extended Duration, commonly called Extended Benefits (EB).

This happens most often in times when the economy tanks, many workers are laid off leading to high unemployment, and it is difficult for unemployed workers to find new jobs.

Emergency Unemployment Compensation

The original Emergency Unemployment Compensation, 2008 (EUC08), was a temporary federal program that provided eligible claimants with additional unemployment benefits when their regular benefits were exhausted.

This program included four stages of extensions:

  • Stage 1 EUC08: 20-week maximum unemployment extension.
  • Stage 2 EUC08: 14-week maximum unemployment extension.
  • Stage 3 EUC08: 13-week maximum unemployment extension.
  • Stage 4 EUC08: six-week maximum unemployment extension.

This program was only effective for a few years. It started in 2008 and ended in 2013.

Pandemic Unemployment Compensation

More recently, a program extending state UI benefits on an emergency basis was enacted by Congress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Like the initial EUC, this was another emergency relief program to meet the urgent financial needs of the country.

American workers unable to work because of the pandemic were assisted by this program, which extended the number of weeks of UI benefits available. Called Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), it was enacted as part of the stimulus package called Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law in March 2020.

The CARES Act permitted people who had exhausted their unemployment compensation benefits to qualify for up to 13 additional weeks of benefits. However, they could only get the benefits if they were:

  • Able to work.
  • Available to work.
  • Actively seeking work.

Expiry of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Congress amended the PEUC program several times to expand it. The initial benefits were set to expire on the final day of 2020, but were extended to March 14, 2021, increasing the number of weeks a claimant could get from 13 to 29. This was further increased to 53 weeks and allowed to run through September 6, 2021.

Extended Benefits Program

The Extended Benefit Program is a federal/state program available to Michigan residents. It can provide up to 20 weeks of additional Unemployment Insurance benefits to employees who have exhausted their regular unemployment compensation and any other extensions available to them.

How Extended Benefits Programs Are Triggered

This program is triggered by a rise in the state's jobless rate. The trigger calculation is based on the insured unemployment rate (IUR), which is different from the total unemployment rate.

The latter quantifies the number of unemployed workers in a state’s work force, while the insured unemployment rate is a 13-week moving average of the weeks of unemployment benefits claims divided by the number of individuals covered.

In order for this program to start in Michigan, the state’s IUR must be at least 6.5 percent, and other indicators must also signal increasing joblessness. If these criteria are met, a qualifying individual receives extended benefits equal to the lesser of 20 weeks or 80 percent of the maximum regular state benefit amount on the original unemployment claim.

Applying for Extended Benefits

Anyone who has exhausted their unemployment benefits in Michigan, as well as a UI claimant approaching the end of those benefits, will be interested in applying for Extended Benefits (EB) if they are available.

Eligibility for EB is determined in the same manner and under the same standards as regular unemployment benefits. Once Michigan begins paying these extended unemployment benefits under the EB program, they will continue the program for at least 13 weeks. Those unemployed workers who may qualify are notified that they may be entitled to these benefits.

The idea of receiving up to 20 more weeks of payments is clearly very appealing, and the application could not be easier. That's because, in Michigan, there is no application process. The UI lets claimants know of an extension, when it is enacted. They are advised through the method they listed as their preferred communication method with the UI.

Qualifying for Continued Benefits

Claimants who qualified for regular UI benefits in Michigan will qualify for continued benefits under the EB program. The worker must be unemployed or underemployed and be able to work and available for work. The individual's weekly benefit under the EB program will be the same as the individual was given for regular Michigan state unemployment insurance.

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