LANSING, Mich. — Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency is asking 648,000 claimants to re-certify for benefits if they signed up and were approved for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the state mistakenly included four reasons for filing for unemployment benefits, but did not get approval from the U.S. Department of Labor — nor were the reasons provided by the USDOL.
Because of that error, people who selected one of the non-qualifying reasons were approved for PUA and paid. The UIA now must re-evaluate those claims to make sure people are qualified.
Those four reasons include:
- Your work hours have been reduced due to COVID-19.
- You are seeking part-time employment and are affected by COVID-19.
- You have insufficient work history to qualify for regular unemployment compensation and are affected by COVID-19.
- You are unemployed or working less than regular hours as a result of COVID-19 and were denied benefits on another claim.
When I reached out to the UIA, spokesperson Lynda Robinson sent me this response:
“At the onset of COVID, there was ambiguity in the federal guidelines and more latitude in the interpretation of those guidelines by the states including Michigan. As a result, Michigan included four reasons that were ultimately not approved by USDOL. As the program continued, USDOL became more prescriptive to states as to what could and could not be included. Earlier this year, additional guidance was provided that required UIA to re-evaluate PUA eligibility for those who chose one of the now four non-qualifying reasons.”
When I told Robinson that the error is on the state and not the people, she agreed and said, “A waiver process is currently being determined.”
I reached out to the USDOL and asked several questions including:
- If Michigan put them in there, why is it now on people to redo everything because the state did something wrong?
- Where does the USDOL stand in investigating how this happened?
- Does your agency have any say in what happens next?
- Can Michigan get in trouble for putting them on the application if they weren't approved?
I asked the USDOL to answer all of those questions but only got this response:
"The Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration is aware of the correspondence from the Unemployment Insurance Agency of Michigan's Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. The department will continue to work with the state as needed."
If you got the letter, the UIA says you should resubmit your self-attestation by logging into your MiWAM account and clicking on “Requalify for PUA.” Then you're able to choose from other valid PUA COVID-19 related eligibility reasons.