Michigan Unemployed May Be Asked to Pay Back Federal Benefits
Nearly 650,000 residents in Michigan who've received unemployment benefits with the federal bonus may be asked to pay them back. This is due to a state error that caused "unapproved qualification criteria".
The criteria, which was established to find out who would qualify for unemployment payments during the pandemic, affects gig workers, part-time workers, and those self-employed. Letters began going out on June 29th to those who are in that group. 648,100 claimants are expected to re-file and re-submit their unemployment paperwork to see if they are still eligible for any unemployment assistance received under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Benefits or PUA.
The state expects that paperwork, which can be mailed back or filled out on the state's MIWAM website, to be completed within 20 days.
The US Department of Labor said that the criteria set by the state of Michigan may not actually comply with federal guidelines.
Lynda Robinson, a spokeswoman for the Unemployment Insurance Agency tells Mlive that the federal guidelines were not clear at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
At the onset of COVID, there was ambiguity in the federal guidelines and more latitude in the interpretation of those guidelines by the states, including Michigan. As a result, Michigan included four reasons that were ultimately not approved by US Department of Labor.
West Michigan State Rep. Steve Johnson tells the Detroit News that this is another mistake that shouldn't happen by the UIA:
The Unemployment Insurance Agency is a mess. If the state made the mistake, the people shouldn’t have to pay for it. The state should have to pay for it...It is our intention to continue looking into these issues at the UIA and try and resolve them for the people of the state of Michigan.