State makes progress digging through massive backlog of unemployment claims
The state of Michigan says it has met an internal goal to clear out a serious backlog of claims that were filed between March 15 and May 1.
The state's Unemployment Insurance Agency is dealing with a historically high number of people filing for benefits due to the coronavirus pandemic and resulting recession. The agency is also dealing with large numbers of fraudsters using stolen identification to file false claims.
About 340,000 of the claims filed since March 15 were flagged as possibly fraudulent, leading to delays in processing those claims, even though officials acknowledged many were legitimate.
Jason Moon is a spokesman for the agency. He says of the 340,000 claims that were flagged as possibly fraudulent, about 285,000 have been resolved. The next goal is to process all of the claims that were filed by June 1, before July 20.
Moon says people should try to follow up on their claims online as much as possible, referring to FAQs and videos online to answer questions. That's because getting in touch with a person is still an uphill battle.
"We're a little bit more responsive on the phone, but the system is still overwhelmed," says Moon. "We want to encourage folks to only use that call center if they need to."
Moon says the state will keep working to catch up on claims in order to make sure everyone who is entitled to benefits gets 100% of them.
Moon says the agency is still in the process of figuring out how many fraudulent claims have been filed since the beginning of the crisis.
Between March 15 and July 6, 2020, the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency has paid out $15 billion in benefits to more than two million claimants.