55,000 Michiganders won’t have to pay back $431 million in improperly awarded unemployment benefits

Claimants who applied for benefits properly won’t have to return money sent due to federal errors

A Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency office.

LANSING, Mich. – More than 55,000 Michiganders will not have to pay back a total of $431 million in pandemic unemployment benefits that was improperly awarded to them, the state announced.

Officials with the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency said they determined that about $431 million worth of benefits that shouldn’t have been awarded was sent to claimants.

To date, UIA has waived more than $4.3 billion in overpayment debt for more than 400,000 claimants, according to authorities.

“This is a huge weight lifted off so many Michiganders’ shoulders,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. “No Michigander who did the right thing when applying for benefits should be required to pay anything back resulting from errors at the federal level.”

An additional $11 million will be refunded to claimants who had already started to pay back these benefits, officials said.

“This is wonderful news for those who lost their job through no fault of their own,” UIA Director Julia Dale said. “The federal jobless assistance programs were a critical lifeline for many Michiganders affected by the global pandemic, and our action today means they will be able to continue to provide for their families without the fear of having to pay back benefits awarded through agency error.”

Claimants who received waivers are being notified by UIA messages on their Michigan Web Account Manager accounts. Letters will also be mailed in the coming days, UIA officials said.

Dale previously testified that a higher number of claimants would receive waivers, but UIA officials said testing over the past week revealed early numbers had overlapped with waivers issued last fall.

Whitmer asked the Department of Labor to expand waiver eligibility for Michigan workers, and Dale advocated in favor of Michiganders who properly filed for benefits.

The request for expanded waivers was granted in February. These waivers apply to federal benefits received before Sept. 4, 2021, which was the end date for affected pandemic unemployment benefits.

Waivers won’t be applied to claims involving fraud, and UIA will pursue restitution of any stolen benefits, officials said.

UIA has requested an extension to the pause on certain collection activity. That pause is currently scheduled through Saturday (May 7).

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Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.