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UIA waives $431M in federal pandemic overpayments
May 04, 2022
The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) announced today that over 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. To date the UIA has waived over $4.3 billion in overpayment debt for more than 400,000 claimants with more to come.
“This is a huge weight lifted off so many Michiganders’ shoulders,” said Governor Whitmer. “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. At every turn, I will stand up and fight on behalf of Michiganders to make sure they get what they were promised. Thanks to these waivers that we fought for and secured Michiganders will get to keep their hard-earned money.”
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.
“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.”
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 this weekend is lower than the conditional number UIA Director Dale provided in recent testimony. Additional testing over the last week by FAST developers revealed the early numbers to overlap with waivers issued last fall by the agency. However, UIA continues to work with their partners at FAST and DTMB to identify other groups of claimants who might also qualify for an overpayment waiver.
Governor Whitmer called on U.S. Department of Labor (U.S. DOL) to expand the eligibility for waivers for Michigan workers who received federal assistance and UIA’s Dale proactively advocated for waivers for Michigan’s workers who followed the rules when they applied for benefits were not negatively affected by decisions the agency made. In February, the request for expanded waivers was granted. “I want to thank the Governor for her proactive efforts to seek federal guidance on issuing waivers for overpayments to claimants who did the right thing when the applied for benefits,” Dale said. “We will continue to review federal UI cases to make sure everyone who qualifies for an overpayment waiver will receive one.”
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.
What type of federal programs are affected? 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.
Will the pause on collections continue? The U.S. DOL authorized a pause on certain collection activity through May 7, 2022. The UIA has requested an extension of that pause while they identify and process waivers for other population and is in the process of providing additional information to support the request for extension.
Claimants with questions about today’s announcement are urged to call UIA’s Customer Service at 1-866-500-0017. Claimants also can schedule an in-person, phone or online appointment.