Michigan Unemployment Benefits Secure For Those Who “Follow the Rules”
The state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency sent letters in June to nearly 700,000 people, representing just over a third of the 1.9 million people who received pandemic assistance. unemployment (PUA), telling them that certain criteria had changed for benefits retroactively to April 2020.
The reason: Four criteria the state established for PUA eligibility – approved at the start of the pandemic to help part-time workers, self-employed workers and “big gigs” – no longer considered a legitimate reason payment, although the US Department of Labor added additional reasons that would make people eligible.
Due to all the changes, Washington informed Michigan that all residents who had filed claims based on criteria that no longer applied were required to update their claims. This prompted the state to write a three-page letter in June. He gave applicants 20 days to make changes themselves or let the UIA determine them.
Buried in the maddening bureaucracy is a hint of irony. It turns out that the new federal labor eligibility criteria were similar to the Michigan criteria that were rejected – but not similar enough for federal regulators. So those who revised their claims found themselves citing claims similar to the ones they initially had.
Letters from the state in June raised concerns that people who had received benefits in some cases more than a year ago would have to repay them to the state. Some feared the waiver process might work, as the legislature made another call for UIA officials to appear before the House Oversight Committee, saying the move was another sign of a bad one. management seemed to be happening within the agency.
The bureaucratic step of sending the letters to each individual was necessary, Whitmer said on Tuesday.
“The federal government has asked the state of Michigan to send letters asking residents to recertify their applications based on abandoned and new eligibility grounds,” she said in the statement. “This was a significant effort to keep our state in compliance with federal guidelines and also to protect taxpayers from fraud.”
While some people will go through the determination process and learn that they were ineligible for the benefits that were paid to them, Whitmer said the federal government’s waiver guidelines issued on May 5 would take effect as long as the original returns. were made in good faith. .
“We plan to use the waiver process that has been granted by the federal government to ensure that you are cured,” Whitmer told recipients in the release.
Meanwhile, 40,092 other Michigan residents received the letter that was declared ineligible when they first applied for benefits using the now obsolete criteria list. Instead of being faced with a possible notice that they were overpaid, some may learn that they were eligible for benefits and that they will be paid retroactively.
The deadline for individuals to access their online accounts to choose a new reason for benefits, a process called self-certification, was Monday.
Liza Estlund Olson, acting UIA director, said the state would assess each account from this week, including determining what criteria match a claim if someone missed the deadline. He is ready to send updated determination letters to all affected. A separate letter will be sent with information about the waiver.
“We are working as quickly as possible to process requalification requests efficiently,” she said.
Undetermined, Olson said, is the number of people who completed their self-attestation before the deadline. As a result, there is no firm deadline to resolve the changes, as the state will have to. “Depending on the type of responses we receive, we expect them to be completed in around 30 to 60 days,” she said.
While some cases have already been closed, others will involve pending claims with people still receiving benefit payments.
Olson said those people shouldn’t see a break in their payments while the state sorts out the reclassifications.
Approximately $ 5.8 billion has been paid out in PUA benefits to Michigan residents since April 2020.