The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) is dealing with unprecedented demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 1 million have filed for benefits in the state in the last several weeks, and the UIA has been hit with massive technical issues due to the demand online and by phone.
The UIA says most of the technical issues have been fixed, but demand is still high and many residents are either still having trouble getting through to file -- or they are waiting on a response. The UIA says about 5-8 percent are having trouble.
Hank Winchester held a live Q&A with Kimberly Berry, the deputy director of UIA, to try and answer some of the questions from viewers. Watch the full video below or read the Q&A below the video:
Berry said that if you think you may qualify for benefits, to apply and let the UIA process your claim. She also said that if you filed, you will hear if you’ve been approved or denied.
Berry also assured residents that payments will be backdated and they are working to increase staff capacity. She repeated that filing online is still the best way to go.
Here are some of the answers from the Q&A (see full FAQ here from UIA):
Do I have to request an authentication code every time I log in?
Yes, each time you access your MiWAM account, you will be required to have an authentication code sent either by text or email.
What if I am locked out of my account?
If your account has been locked, it will automatically be unlocked after 30 minutes. If you continue to get the locked out message after the 30 minutes has lapsed, you may contact Unemployment Insurance at 1-866-500-0017 or Michigan.gov/MILogin.
Can a person work part-time and still collect UI benefits?
If you are working part-time and collecting unemployment, make sure to report your earnings when claiming the week in benefits. Unemployment benefits are reduced based upon your earnings you receive when working part-time.
What does “stop payment indicator” mean?
A stop payment indicator is placed on a claim to prevent payment. This may be related to a variety of different reasons such something dealing with fraud/identity theft or something that may be pending on the claim that needs further review or investigation.
What does “open non-monetary issue” mean?
Usually a non monetary issue means that the claimant certification was accepted but is not payable at this time. There’s an issue which has to be reviewed first. Once the review or investigation concerning their eligibility for benefits is complete, they will issue a redetermination. Stay tuned to your MiWAM account and continue to certify as you are instructed to do so.
What if I have to care for someone who has Coronavirus? Can I get unemployment benefits?
If you have to leave your job because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member, caring for someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, or have a family care responsibility as a result of a government directive, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits.
What if I am a self-employed, 1099 or gig worker?
With Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), many people, including those who don’t typically qualify for unemployment benefits, such as self-employed workers, independent contractors, low-wage workers and those with limited work history may qualify for PUA. Under PUA, individuals will receive an established weekly benefit amount and an additional $600 per week in Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.
I can’t afford to wait to get paid, I have bills due now. What am I supposed to do?
We understand how important it is to get these payments to you as quickly as possible, and we are doing everything we can to get you the help you need. Many options are available to help you and your family in this crisis, many of which you can find on the State of Michigan’s Coronavirus website at michigan.gov/coronavirus. This includes information about services available to you and your family – from food, childcare, healthcare options, resources in your local community and more.
How long does it take to review documents?
It’s taking a little longer than normal to review documents because of the large numbers of claims.
We are doing everything to get to them as quickly as possible. Once your issue is resolved, you’ll receive a notice in your MiWAM account.
I tried to login but it said my social security number is already in use.
This means you have created multiple MILogin accounts with UI, PMTC or other State Agencies such as DNR, MiBridges, etc. Please call Unemployment Insurance customer service at 1-866-500-0017 to have this corrected.
Are there more requirements I need to meet after I apply?
Yes. Claimants must certify (report) every two weeks that they are eligible for benefits. After the first certification (which is done during the third week of unemployment) they will receive their payment in about 3-5 days. You can certify online with MiWAM at michigan.gov/uia 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or by phone at 1-866-638-3993 Monday - Saturday; 8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
I have a previous claim for benefits starting before 3/15/20, do I get more weeks of benefits on this claim?
If you have an active claim or benefit year in effect on 3/15/2020, and you were entitled to 20 weeks of benefits, you will get the additional 6 weeks of benefits, unless there are less than 6 weeks left in your benefit year (for example: if you only have 4 weeks left on your benefit year, you will only be paid the 4 weeks).
In addition to the weeks of benefit entitlement on a regular claim, the Relief for Workers Affected by Coronavirus Act adds 13 additional weeks of unemployment benefits in Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). With these additional benefits, individuals may be eligible for up 39 weeks of benefits. You may also receive an additional $600 per week of pandemic unemployment compensation (PUC) in addition to the weekly benefit amount payable. This amount is payable for weeks between 3/29/2020 – 7/31/2020. You do not need to do anything additional to receive the additional 13 weeks of PEUC or the additional $600 of PUC benefits.
What do I have to do to get the additional $600 payment?
If you are already receiving unemployment benefits, you do not need to do anything additional to qualify for this payment; however, you must continue to certify bi-weekly to receive the payment. If you have lost your job due to COVID-19, visit Michigan.gov/uia for more information and to apply for unemployment benefits online.
What if I need to take time off work because I contract COVID-19?
Workers who are sick, quarantined, or immunocompromised and who do not have access to paid family and medical leave or are laid off may be eligible for unemployment benefits.
My employer has shut down operations temporarily because an employee is sick and other employees have been asked to isolate or quarantine as a result of COVID-19. Am I eligible for unemployment benefits?
If you are not receiving payment from your employer, such as paid sick leave or paid time off, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits during this time.
If I file for unemployment insurance benefits, when will it become effective and when will I receive my first check?
Although circumstances may vary, individuals should expect their first payment about three weeks after they file their claim. Subsequent payments are released every two weeks after the individual certifies. The day or time of day in which a claim is filed will not impact whether a worker receives benefits or their benefit amount. Claims will be back-dated to reflect the date in which a claimant was laid-off or let go from their job due to COVID-19.
Claimants must certify (report) every two weeks that they are eligible for benefits. After the first certification (which is done during the third week of unemployment) they will receive their payment in about 3-5 days. Certification can be done using a person’s MIWAM account and/or by phone by MARVIN.
MARVIN won’t give me a payment amount when I call. What happened?
If this happens, it is usually because UIA doesn’t have all the information in your file that it needs. It could be that there is a decision about your claim that is pending or that your answer to a question prompted the need for additional information. Make sure that you listen carefully to MARVIN’s complete message because you will get instructions about what to do next at the end of the call.
Where can I get help if I have additional questions?
If you have a question or problem with your claim, call our toll free customer service line at 1-866-500-0017; TTY customers call -1-866-366-0004 Monday - Friday 8 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.