RELATED: Truthful unemployment claimants won’t have to repay benefits despite Michigan error, Whitmer says
About 450,000 failed to respond, but the Unemployment Insurance Agency has decided not to demand the money back from 350,000 of those claimants – granting them a waiver.
The UIA is still considering the other 100,000 cases, as some of them may be duplicates, said UIA spokesperson Nick Assendelft. All truthful claimants will not be asked to repay their benefits, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said.
Those 350,000 people won’t be able to keep collecting Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits in the future, however. The waiver only covers past payments.
For the 241,000 people who did respond to the UIA letter, they’re either eligible for unemployment under a different reason or will be granted a waiver. There will be another round of waivers granted, Assendelft said.
“For those who did not respond, we want to assure them that claimants who are no longer eligible won’t have to return the money they received when, through no fault of their own, they chose one of the four non-eligible reasons,” acting UIA Director Liza Estlund Olson said in a news release.
The issue stems from a miscommunication between the federal government and Michigan regarding which reasons people can get PUA benefits for. While four of Michigan’s qualifying reasons were similar to federally-approved reasons, the wording didn’t exactly match. Michigan was required to send letters asking people to refile paperwork.
Of the 690,000 people who got letters, 648,000 got benefits for one of the non-qualifying reasons. The other 42,000 were denied benefits, but now may be eligible via new qualifying reasons.
All federal pandemic benefits end in Michigan after Sept. 4. Michigan averaged 565,000 unemployment claims per week through the first two weeks of July – and about 85% were federal pandemic benefits. People can reach the UIA online at Michigan.gov/UIA or 866-500-0017.
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