This is not good news. During the height of job losses last year the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency was a mess. There was so much fraud it paralyzed the agency and for months citizens of our state were not able to communicate with them. People were desperate for help to pay their bills and put food on the table.

Now they have stepped up and said they allowed workers to claim federal jobless benefits for what they called “unapproved reasons”, and issued 650,000 requests to resubmit paperwork for eligibility verification.

Many who received the letters are in a panic, said Rachael Kohl, director of the Workers’ Rights Legal Clinic at Michigan United. “At this point, these people don’t have the money anymore,” Kohl said. “They’ve spent it – because that’s literally the point of unemployment benefits, to put money into our economy and keep people in their homes and put food on the table.”

Those who received the update request have 20 days to submit new paperwork, it can be done through their MiWAM account. If a person does not honor the request and doesn’t refile, their claim will be considered unqualified.

Our Michigan UIA says it may provide some or all of the claimants a pass on restitution, if the change disqualifies them. According to Rachael Kohl it would be illegal to ask for payback, but she thinks they will do it anyway. Any funds that are returned would be sent to the federal government, as it’s funding for federal unemployment that’s being scrutinized.

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“I’m just hoping that the agency does the right thing here,” Kohl said. “Because at this point, this money’s been spent. And these people did nothing wrong to get it.”

Full story at MLive


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