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After losing their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, some unemployed Michigan workers are being asked to pay back thousands of dollars in unemployment benefits received in 2020.

When the pandemic began, Bruce Kirschbaum lost his job as a line cook in Caledonia. He tells Grand Rapids TV station Fox-17 that he began receiving benefits under Michigan's Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

“After they sent that determination saying you don’t qualify for regular unemployment, they told me I did qualify for the PUA,” he tells the station.

Kirschbaum says he picked up another job in July and reported his income to the state. He filled out the subsequent unemployment forms to the best of his knowledge, but was then told he had misrepresented himself and that he owed the state $9,700.

“You know it seems pretty straightforward to me that I was laid off, you approved the benefit, I received it; all I did was take another job,” he said.

West Bloomfield resident John Rogers also talked to Fox-17, saying that he was laid off from his job as a bartender in March.

Rogers collected unemployment benefits until he found another job in July. But then he got a notice saying that he owed the state $16,000.

“They say I owe all that money, that I wasn’t deserving of that money when I was working in a restaurant full time, no problem, why do I owe it?”

Rogers' case has since been evaluated by a manager and collection attempts have been halted.

If you've been asked to pay back benefits and feel that that request is in error, you can use this online form to file an official protest with the state of Michigan.

 

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