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UIA offers new coaching sessions for first-time filers seeking jobless benefits
August 21, 2023
Online guidance will explain process, answer questions for those applying for unemployment
Workers applying for jobless benefits for the first time can now get online guidance from trained instructors with the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) who will walk users through the steps they need to follow to qualify for payments.
Coaching sessions are available Tuesdays through Fridays and will provide ample time for questions. Workers can sign up at Michigan.gov/UIA for the voluntary web-based orientations. Participating in an orientation session is not required to qualify for benefits.
During the sessions, UIA staff will guide first-time users through the UIA’s new online Claimant Roadmap, which offers six steps that explain applying for and understanding benefits. The roadmap is an easy-to-follow, user-focused tool that provides answers, clarifies instructions, and eliminates confusion about filing for benefits and searching for work.
“The new worker orientations, in combination with our recently launched Claimant Roadmap, is another example of how we are modernizing the Unemployment Insurance Agency to make it easier for anyone to file for benefits,” said Julia Dale, Director of the UIA. “We listened to what users told us about their experiences with the UIA. These new user-focused tools are significant improvements and can take a lot of stress out of the filing process.”
Convenient days and times are available
Workers can sign up for a coaching session through the UIA’s public website where they can choose a day and time that fits their schedule:
- 9-11 a.m. Tuesdays.
- 3-5 p.m. Wednesdays.
- 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays.
- 1-3 p.m. Fridays.
After signing up, users will be emailed a link to use on their selected day and time. Reminder emails will be sent one day and one hour before the session begins.
The sessions are not intended for someone who has a current claim. They can either call UIA’s Customer Service line at 1-866-500-0017; go to the Schedule an Appointment page at Michigan.gov/UIA to make an in-person, phone or virtual appointment; or use the website’s Ask Ava chat feature to get answers to their questions.
Sessions are part of UIA transformation
The online sessions are one of a number of initiatives being launched under a $6.8 million equity grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The grant will also fund outreach to communities of workers who have historically had difficulty accessing UIA resources and translations of letters, documents, and forms sent to workers and employers.
The changes highlight Director Dale’s efforts to transform the UIA into a national model for fast, fair, and fraud-free service. Key elements of her agency modernization include:
- Creating the UIA Modernization Workgroup, consisting of labor, business and jobless advocates to advise the UIA on significant improvements in how it can better serve Michigan workers and employers.
- Securing a more than $2.3 million equitable access and communications grant from the USDOL Tiger Teams initiative to redesign and simplify how UIA engages with employers and develop a help center for accessing agency services.
- Naming a Legal Advisor and creating the Legal and Compliance Bureau to leverage collaborative anti-fraud practices for pursuing bad actors.
- Revamping the agency’s public website at Michigan.gov/UIA so it is more user-friendly and responsive for those accessing services using cell phones or tablets.
Other reforms initiated throughout agency
Since being named in October 2021 to lead the UIA, Director Dale – the agency's 11th director in as many years – has also:
- Collaborated with the Attorney General’s office as well as local, state and federal law enforcement to bring bad actors to justice and combat fraud at the agency. To date, 158 individuals have been arrested or charged in connection with unemployment benefits fraud, 79 have been convicted, and 47 sentenced for their crimes.
- Reassigned staff and resources to address the largest categories of claims that are contributing to the agency’s case backlogs.
- Rebuilt to more than $2.3 billion (and growing) the UI Trust Fund from which weekly benefits are paid to workers.
- Approved more than 76,000 overpayment waivers (with more to come) of state and federal benefits paid out during the global pandemic, waiving more than $555 million.
- Halted overpayment collections on claims filed since March 1, 2020, while the agency addresses pending protests and appeals. More than $13 million was refunded to workers since May 2022.
- Implemented new ethics and security clearance policies for employees and contractors.
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