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'Michiganders should not be penalized': Waiver eligibility expanded for unemployment claimants

The UIA is now determining how many claims might qualify for waivers and how soon Michiganders could see those waivers.

MICHIGAN, USA — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Monday that the federal government has expanded eligibility for waivers for those who received Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

The announcement comes after the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) granted Gov. Whitmer's request.

“Michiganders should not be penalized for doing what was right at the time they applied for federal pandemic benefits,” said Gov. Whitmer in a release. “Coupled with the waivers we applied earlier, we are looking to help Michiganders who needed unemployment benefits to pay their bills, keep food on the table, and continue supporting small businesses. I look forward to working with our legislative partners to continue putting Michiganders first and keeping more money in their pockets.”  

RELATED: HOW DID WE GET HERE?: What led to problems with the UIA, and what happens next?

The waiver guidance now includes five additional scenarios that states can use to apply blanket waivers:

  • An individual responded “no” to being able and available for work and the state issued payment for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation without adjudicating the eligibility issue. 
  • An individual was eligible for payment and the state issued payment at a higher rate Weekly Benefit Amount under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. 
  • The individual responded “no” to being unemployed, partially unemployed or unable or unavailable to work due to the approved coronavirus-related reasons, and the state paid Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. When asked to self-certify, the individual did not respond or confirmed that none of the approved coronavirus-related reasons applied and the state issued payment, resulting in overpayment for the week.  
  • The individual submitted required proof of earnings used to calculate Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Weekly Benefit Amount and the state incorrectly processed the calculation resulting in a higher weekly benefit amount under the PUA program.  
  • The individual submitted proof of self-employment earnings to establish eligibility for Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation Program and the state incorrectly processed the information, resulting in overpayment. 

Roughly 350,000 waivers were distributed in July 2021 so Michiganders would not have to repay overpayments that were received by no fault of their own.

The Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) is now reviewing the categories added Monday and determining how many other claims might qualify for waivers under these categories. The agency is also working to determine how quickly these waivers could be distributed to Michiganders.

“This is an important next step in the UIA’s proactive efforts to resolve outstanding issues for any Michigan claimant now being asked to repay benefits through no fault of their own,” said UIA Director Julia Dale. “We appreciate the USDOL’s swift action to provide much needed relief through expanded waivers for Michigan workers who received federal pandemic unemployment benefits.”  

Claimants who qualify for waivers will be notified by letter and through their MIWAM account.

The UIA is also continuing to work with the Unemployment Insurance Fraud Response Team, which Gov. Whitmer established in December to investigate potentially fraudulent payouts.  

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