With the state's unemployment system overwhelmed by applicants during the pandemic, many are struggling to file for unemployment benefits. As system overload and crashes prevent many from filing their applications in a timely manner, the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) is assuring everyone who applies and is eligible to receive benefits that they will receive those benefits back-dated to the time each individual was laid off from their job due to COVID-19.

The UIA has a series of how-to videos to help navigate the unemployment system and assist you with filing a claim.

View the full playlist of videos for employees here.

Keep in mind, it’s best to apply online during non-peak hours, between 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. The 24-hour website operates faster when fewer people are on the site. Visit Michigan.gov/UIA to get started.

UIA Director Steve Gray answers FAQs about unemployment benefits

Watch the full video here.
Steve Gray, UIA Director

How to file a claim?

Watch the how to file a claim video here.

How to file for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)?

Watch the how to file for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance video here.

Unemployed individuals are more likely to qualify for increased weekly benefits and extended collection periods because of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 National Emergency. Also, individuals who would not normally qualify - due to being self-employed, an independent contractor, or for other reasons - may now qualify for benefits.

As of March 30, 2020, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, under the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), entered into an agreement with the Department of Labor to implement Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Compensation programs, providing the following to Michigan residents:

  • Benefits to low-wage workers, gig-workers, workers with a limited work history, individuals who are self-employed, and independent contractors who, due to the pandemic, can no longer work
  • An increase in weekly benefits to unemployed workers by $600 a week for up to four months
  • An extension of benefit payments from 26 to 39 weeks

Importantly, the eligibility window to apply has been extended from 14 to 28 days from the individual’s last day of work.

Please click here to begin your application for Unemployment Benefits.

The Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity released an email titled Resources for Workers and Employers Affected by COVID-19. Below is the complete email with key links to important COVID-19 resources for Michigan Employees regarding Filing for Unemployment as well as several resources for Michigan Employers:

Dear Michigan employees and employers,

Governor Whitmer, in an effort to protect all Michiganders, today signed Executive Order 2020-21 that directs residents to remain at home or in their place of residence to the maximum extent feasible. A summary of her, "Stay Home, Stay Safe,” Executive Order is available online. 

For purposes of this order, critical infrastructure workers are those workers described by the Director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in his guidance of March 19, 2020 on the COVID-19 response.

Below you will find available resources for workers and employees affected by COVID-19. If you have questions related to the governor’s order or the resources below, contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We will continue to do everything we can to provide economic relief to employees and businesses affected by COVID-19.

Jeff Donofrio, 
Director

Photos by Jennifer Gomori, MAP Editor                                                                           Stuart Raider talks to MAP members about retirement planning.

 By Jennifer Gomori, MAP Editor

While it’s true our experiences in life impact our financial decisions, having a plan for retirement isn’t something anyone should go without.

That’s the message Stuart Raider and Peter Mendler recently shared with MAP members. The Raider Dennis Agency President and Vice President encourage all members to come in for a free financial analysis and thorough retirement plan, so they are ready when it’s time to retire.

“This is something that is available to all MAP, MAPE and MAFF members that are dues paying,” Mendler said.

Raider’s father, Jordan, was only 7-years-old when his own dad passed away unexpectedly. “He learned about financial and emotional hardship,” Raider said.

Those hardships inspired Jordan to build a successful financial planning business, thus inspiring Stuart to follow in his footsteps with the business and get a college education at Michigan State University. “It taught me a lesson about responsibility for my clients,” Raider said.

Mendler experienced a similar upbringing to Raiders’ father. A former IRS Agent, current attorney and financial planner, Mendler was only 5-years-old when his parents divorced. His dad passed away when he was 12. “I went to live with my grandparents,” Mendler said. “I felt like a charity case. I learned what it was like to feel needy, vulnerable. I’ve worked my whole life to never feel like I’m in that position again.”

His grandfather inspired his financial career. “My grandfather instilled in me the value of saving,” Mendler said. “As we face retirement, we don’t want to run out of money.”

Both partners in the Raider Dennis Agency are fiduciaries. They are held to a higher standard of education, knowledge and responsibility to provide individuals with financial plans that will see them through retirement. “A fiduciary is legally bound to act in your best interests,” Mendler said. “Stuart and I are fiduciaries. We take it very seriously to uphold that trust we’re held up to. Not every financial advisor is a fiduciary.”

By Jennifer Gomori, MAP Editor

Having a pension is an important part of a successful retirement savings plan, but something many employers are taking away from their workers and replacing with 401k plans. In the public safety realm, pensions are an even more crucial component of retirement since a majority of these employees are not eligible for Social Security benefits. MAP works hard to maintain Defined Benefit (DB) plans, a type of pension plan, for its members.

When 401k plans were introduced to employees in the 1980s, it was never the intent of early backers that these would replace pensions.

“401k’s were not designed to take the place of (pensions),” said MAP Executive Director Fred Timpner. “If all people have is a 401k and Social Security, that will not be enough to maintain the lifestyle they’ve become accustomed to.”

President Stuart E. Raider (left) and Partner Peter M. Mendler of Raider Dennis Agency.

In an effort to save money, employers are substituting these market-based plans for pensions. The problem is market volatility can negatively impact 401k savings compared to the steady growth of a DB plan.

“(Pensions are) the most important part because they’re not environmentally changed,” said Stuart Raider of Raider Dennis Agency. “The Defined Benefit is a payout based on a formula, like Social Security. Social Security is the cornerstone of most people’s retirement, although most police and fire aren’t eligible to receive this benefit.”

That makes DB’s even more important to public safety employees, assuring them a certain amount of money will be set aside for their retirement. The plan is ‘defined’ because the formula for calculating the employer’s contribution is known ahead of time. However, DB’s are different from other pensions, where the amount of payout depends on the return of the funds invested. If there is a shortfall from investments set aside to fund the employee’s retirement, employers must make up the difference.

“One of the advantages is the Defined Benefit puts all of the responsibility of the risk on the employer,” Raider said.

But that doesn’t mean DB plans will become a hardship for the employer, Timpner said. “If a DB plan is properly funded by the parties, then there could be minimal or no cost at all to the employer,” Timpner said. “For example, the City of Sterling Heights went years without putting one cent into the pension fund. There were no employer contributions due to the fact that the pension fund was overfunded.”