The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (“UIA”) recently announced that it will issue another round of repayment waivers to claimants who provided the UIA with their gross earnings instead of their net earnings due to unclear instructions. See https://www.michigan.gov/leo/news/2022/05/27/uia-director-takes-decisive-action-to-get-more-help-to-people-in-need. The UIA previously issued 55,000 waivers to claimants who were overpaid unemployment benefits due to a variety of reasons, including UIA errors.
Because of the government shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals filed for and received unemployment benefits. Due to unclear instructions, changing guidance, and/or administrative errors by the UIA, some individuals who were not actually eligible for benefits, particularly pandemic-related federal unemployment benefits, received unemployment compensation. Over the past several months, the UIA has sent letters to individuals who previously received benefits stating that they were not eligible and that were required to repay any UIA benefits received. Under Section 62(a) of the Michigan Employment Security Act, MCL 421.62(a), the UIA is required to waive overpayment of benefits under certain circumstances, including when benefits were received due to an administrative or clerical error of the UIA, so long as the claimant did not engage in fraudulent conduct or make any misrepresentations to the UIA. Because the bulk of the unemployment compensation distributed during the COVID-19 pandemic came from the federal government, however, the federal Department of Labor determines whether states can waive overpayment of federal pandemic unemployment benefits. The UIA has requested and received more favorable waiver criteria from the federal Department of Labor, allowing the UIA to begin waiving repayment of benefits for thousands of Michiganders.
Individuals who have received unemployment benefits should be aware that the UIA has not issued waivers for every claimant that is eligible for a waiver of repayment, and should be sure to protest and/or appeal any unfavorable UIA determinations received if they believe they were made in error. Protests and appeals of unfavorable UIA determinations must generally be submitted 21 days after the date of the determination. It is important that claimants timely protest or appeal a determination or redetermination from the UIA stating that they are not eligible for benefits, as failure to do so can prevent the UIA from later considering the protest/appeal. Often the UIA does not respond quickly to protests or appeals that were timely filed, and claimants may continue to receive overpayment notices even though they have timely protested or appealed.
Mika Meyers can assist claimants in submitting comprehensive protests and appeals to the UIA and in seeking repayment waivers. Mika Meyers has also assisted claimants with filing late protests and appeals for UIA consideration.
Individuals with questions regarding overpayment notices or who would like assistance responding to notices of determination or redeterminations stating that they were not eligible for UIA benefits should contact Kathryn Zoller (moc.sreyemakim@rellozk) or Nikole Canute (moc.sreyemakim@etunacn).