by Bruce Walker
The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency announced on Thursday it will forgive an additional $55.6 million in overpayments.
This round of waivers pertains to nearly 7,300 jobless claims the agency erroneously issued during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as $2.4 million of refunds for claimants paying back benefits or applied toward overpayments.
Waivers will apply to claimants who applied for state and federal benefits – including state jobless claims, extended benefits, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation – between March 15, 2020, and May 30, 2021.
The waivers will be provided without requiring an application from claimants.
Dale announced last May that more than 55,000 jobless claims, totaling more than $431 million in overpayments of federal pandemic unemployment benefits, would be forgiven. Approximately $11 million thus far has been refunded to Michigan residents who had already begun repaying claims.
The UIA has waived more than $4.35 billion on more than 407,300 unemployment claim overpayments over the past year. And, according to UIA Director Julia Dale, the agency will waive even more down the road.
The UIA was plagued with issues since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued the first of her nearly 200 executive orders shutting down the state’s economy, Michigan’s unemployment jumped to 22.7%.
The UIA hired more than 5,500 workers to assist.
“We’re not finished providing substantial relief to Michigan workers,” UIA Director Julia Dale said in a statement. “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.”
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. Claimants can also call UIA’s customer service at 866-500-0017.
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Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.