Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency announced Thursday that it has sent out another round of waivers to claimants as it identifies those who were deemed eligible and received benefits in the pandemic but were later told they were overpaid and told to pay the money back.
In a news release, the agency said it sent out 7,300 waivers for overpayments related to state and federal COVID-19 claims, for a total of $53.2 million, or about $7,288 per claim. The UIA also said it will refund $2.4 million to claimants who were repaying benefits.
For claimants with more than one overpayment determination who receive a waiver for one determination but have others pending, the agency will apply those payments toward overpayments not covered by the waivers instead of issuing a refund.
UIA Director Julia Dale said in the news release that the waivers should provide “fresh hope” for Michigan residents who faced paying back benefits. Dale pointed to “frequently shifting federal and state program rules” as to why claimants were told they were overpaid.
Dale added that the agency still has more work to do in providing financial relief to claimants.
Over the last three months, the agency has waived a total of $484.2 million in overpayments from 62,300 claims. It’s unknown how many claimants are eligible for waivers because “it’s very difficult to quickly access information and requires programming to pull out specific data” from the agency’s current computer system, Nick Assendelft, a spokesperson for the agency, said in an email.
This current group of 7,300 waivers applies 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).
Claimants receiving this group of waivers were sent a message through their Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) online unemployment accounts, the agency said. Letters will also be mailed to claimants to confirm the MiWAM notification.
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In May, after the Detroit Free Press brought to light that certain people who received Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits recipients were accused of misreporting their income and were asked to repay the excess benefits they had received, the agency said this group would be next to be assessed for waivers.
Assendelft said the agency “is still working through the process to evaluate who qualifies for waivers in this group and will announce the results of that process once that evaluation is complete.”
The UIA said it has refunded $11 million to claimants who had paid, or started to pay back, benefits.
Since July 2021, the agency said it has waived more than $4.35 billion in overpayments related to federal pandemic jobless benefits programs for more than 407,300 claims.
Contact Adrienne Roberts: [email protected].