Mom fighting for husband's unemployment benefits following his sudden death

Posted at 5:21 PM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-18 00:14:35-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Kentwood mother is trying hard to get answers from Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency.

Her husband suddenly died this summer and he never got his benefits.

As we’ve reported, it’s hard enough for people to connect with the UIA on their own claims, let alone that of their spouse.

It’s been a nightmare for Wendy Tanis and she’s trying hard to look out for their three children by herself.

“It just really plays on your psyche and now that he passed away, I just wish that wasn’t the last three months that we had.”

Tanis told FOX 17 she’s gone back and forth with the UIA since August.

Her husband Mark suddenly passed away from a blood clot before ever receiving any of his benefits. He left behind three adopted children from Ethiopia; Kaleb, Isaac, and Aaliyah.

“Just a week ago Saturday, my 13-year-old son got up at one o’clock and came to me crying and saying that he didn’t want to close his eyes because he didn’t want to forget about his dad,” she said.

Mark lost his job in May due to COVID and downsizing. He filed for benefits two days later.

Between May and his death on August 10th, he tried calling the UIA and State Representative Steve Johnson with no luck.

And then Wendy got different answers from everyone she connected with at the agency.

“I told them I filled out the 1729 they still say they can’t talk to me. I’ve been told, ‘I’m not entitled to that money’, ‘Mark died the money’s gone’, ‘don’t plan on it’, and I’ve asked them ‘well should I not plan on paying his medical bills?’ In the end I’m still getting bills in his name.”

The UIA requested their marriage certificate and Mark’s death certificate so Wendy sent both and then followed up two weeks later.

“He had life insurance. That life insurance wasn’t there once he passed because he was unemployed and then we couldn’t even get his unemployment to help at that time,” she said.

Wendy kept calling the agency and also reached out to Rep. Johnsons’s office and Governor Whitmer, but still nothing.

Mid-November, she was told she had to submit additional paperwork and then a few days later she was locked out of his account.

A couple weeks ago she received a denial letter saying ‘you have not resolved your issue’ and ‘you are ineligible for benefits’.

The stress on the family is not easy as Mark is owed more than $10,000. Money the family could really use with Wendy now left to care for their three children, by herself.

“We’re making it and we will. We’ve got a strong family but this, that money would just be a huge relief.”

I reached out to the UIA to look into Wendy’s claim.

After talking with us, her husband’s payments are set to be pending to their checking account.

If you need to download form 1729 for a similar situation, click here.