More rounds of waivers expected, offering relief to workers
The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) announced today that it has issued another round of waivers to approximately 7,300 state and federal COVID-19 jobless claims from workers in Michigan. The UIA waived the repayment of more than $53.2 million in benefits that were received by claimants, providing much needed relief for Michiganders.
In addition, approximately $2.4 million will be refunded to claimants who were paying back benefits received or applied toward overpayments not covered by the waivers.
“We’re not finished providing substantial relief to Michigan workers,” said UIA Director Julia Dale. “The waivers provide fresh hope for Michiganders who faced paying back the federal government for benefits they received based on frequently shifting federal and state program rules. Over the past three months, we have waived more than $484.2 million on 62,300 claims. This latest round of waivers adds to our robust work to reform the agency and get money back to Michiganders, while also cracking down on fraud and abuse and holding bad actors accountable at every turn.”
This most recent round of waivers provides relief to Michiganders who, during the height of the pandemic, followed the rules as they navigated an overburdened unemployment benefits system. The claimants provided the information and documentation required by the agency but were later told they were ineligible for the benefits they received. Director Dale is committed to ensuring that no Michigan family be forced to repay benefits due to changes that affected their claims after they applied for benefits.
Claimants who receive waivers were sent a message in their Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) online accounts. Letters will also be mailed to the address on file confirming the MiWAM notification. There is no application process.
The waivers will apply to state and federal benefits that claimants received between March 15, 2020, and May 30, 2021, under a state jobless claim, extended benefits, or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC).
Workers with questions about overpayment waivers can go to Michigan.gov/UIA and click on the Schedule an Appointment link to set up an in-person, phone or online meeting with a trained staff member. Convenient times and dates are available. Claimants can also call UIA’s Customer Service at 1-866-500-0017.
UIA will continue to look at COVID-19 pandemic claims to identify others that may qualify for waivers.
In May, Dale announced that collections on more than 55,000 claims will not have to be paid back, totaling approximately $431 million in overpayments of federal pandemic unemployment benefits. Around $11 million was refunded to Michiganders who had paid or begun paying back these benefits.
Since July 2021, the UIA has waived over $4.35 billion in overpayment debt related to federal pandemic jobless benefits programs on more than 407,300 claims.
Issuing waivers is a cornerstone of Director Dale’s reform of the UIA. Dale is also going after bad actors who steal money from workers, striving for exemplary customer service, and leading the effort to replace the Agency’s decade-old computer system with a user-friendly, state-of-the-art interface for claimants and businesses. A new system will allow for quick analysis of data that is currently not possible for the agency.
Since Dale was appointed director in October 2021, she also has:
- Reassigned staff and resources to address the largest categories of claims that are contributing to the agency’s case backlog.
- Implemented new policies for employees and contractors, including fingerprinting, criminal background checks, and an updated ethics policy.
- Collaborated with the Attorney General’s office to combat fraud at the agency.
- Built a new, user-friendly website that is more responsive to those using a mobile phone or tablet to access services.
- Rebuilt the Trust Fund to $1.5 billion (and growing).