The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has announced that more than 55,000 claimants will not have to pay back a total of approximately $431 million in overpayments of federal pandemic unemployment benefits that the agency previously determined to have been improperly awarded.
Additionally, roughly $11 million will be refunded to claimants who had been paying back their federal benefits overpayment, or it will be applied to any outstanding debt a claimant may have.
UIA has notified claimants who received waivers by posting messages to their Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) accounts. Letters will also be mailed in the coming days confirming the MiWAM notification.
The number of claimants receiving waivers is lower than the conditional number Julia Dale, director of the UIA, provided in recent testimony. Additional testing over the last week by Family Automated Screening Tool (FAST) developers revealed the early numbers to overlap with waivers issued last fall by the agency.
UIA continues to work with their partners at FAST and the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget (DTMB) to identify other groups of claimants who might also qualify for an overpayment waiver.
Waivers will not be applied to claims where UIA has determined fraud is involved and the agency will continue to vigorously pursue restitution of any stolen benefits.
The waivers will apply to federal benefits received before September 4, 2021, the end date for pandemic unemployment benefits programs under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and its extensions.
The programs were Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), Mixed Earnings Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) and federal reimbursement for the first week of benefits.
The U.S. DOL authorized a pause on certain collection activity through May 7. The UIA has requested an extension of that pause while they identify and process waivers. It’s also in the process of providing additional information to support the request for extension.
Claimants with questions about the announcement can call the UIA’s customer service at 866-500-0017.
Claimants also can schedule an in-person, phone, or online appointment.