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unemployment insurance agency

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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.

$100 bills
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Michiganders waiting months on state unemployment claims should soon have an answer.

The Unemployment Insurance Agency is pledging to process the remaining nearly 12,000 claims filed before May 1 by July 4.

Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA)
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Michigan’s official jobless rate jumped to 22.7%.

The seasonally adjusted number shows Michigan lost more than one million jobs from March to April. The hardest-hit sectors were manufacturing and hospitality.

That number is higher than at the peak of the Great Recession.

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Legislators grilled the head of the Unemployment Insurance Agency about why some people still are not receiving benefits. Steve Gray, director of the agency, gave a short presentation about how it is dealing with the 1.7 million applications for benefits that have been filed since March 15.

Courtesy: UIA

The Michigan unemployment insurance application process is back online. After crashing Monday because of the huge volume of applicants, the state added new servers. The Unemployment Insurance Agency has also added new people to take phone call applications. 600,000 people are now receiving benefits. Another 700,000 applications have been approved for payments. The agency expects the number to continue to climb this week.

Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA)
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More than a million Michiganders, or more than a quarter of the state’s workforce, have applied for unemployment during the coronavirus outbreak.

Jeff Donofrio is the director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. He says while the state isn’t unique, Michigan has seen some of the biggest surges in unemployment applications.

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Applications for unemployment in Michigan took another huge jump last week. 384,844 people filed first-time claims. The U.S. Department of Labor’s newly released report revised numbers for the previous week, indicating more than 304,000 Michiganders filed for unemployment during that period.

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Update: 5:46 p.m.  Jeff Donofrio, Michigan's Director of Labor and Economic Opportunity, says 55,000 people filed claims in the past three days - a 1,500% increase over the last week. 

Donofrio was on All Things Considered. He said most of the claims were from people in service industry jobs, including restaurants, but he expected claims would soon be made by people who work in all sectors of the economy as the coronavirus crisis worsens.

Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA)
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Today on Stateside, we heard about the latest update on a lawsuit filed in 2015 on behalf of the tens of thousands of Michiganders wrongly accused of filing fraudulent unemployment claims. Plus, the new director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency talked about her plan to get more of Michigan's 600,000 vets connected to the benefits they need.

Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA)
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The Michigan Court of Appeals says a lawsuit filed by people wrongly accused of unemployment insurance fraud can proceed.

The lawsuit stems from the state's reliance on a new - and defective - software program which wrongly flagged more than 40,000 claims as fraudulent between 2013 and 2015.

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Today on Stateside, what is Michigan doing to compensate the thousands of residents wrongly accused of making fraudulent unemployment insurance claims? Plus, we look into efforts at Grand Rapids Public Schools to improve opportunities for students of color, and talk to a desegregation expert about why urban districts often struggle to do so. 

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Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency will soon have new leadership.

The hiring of Steve Gray was announced on Monday.

Gray helped to create legislation aimed at improving the unemployment agency in the wake of a scandal in which people were falsely accused of fraud.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

 

Today on Stateside, will the 44,000 people who were wrongfully accused of unemployment fraud be able to sue the state? Plus, the legacy of the 1920’s African-American Doctor who purchased a home on Detroit's segregated East Side.

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below.

 

Michigan Supreme Court hears appeal for lawsuit against state for false fraud accusations

Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA)
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A bipartisan group of lawmakers has come up with plans to overhaul the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency in hopes of stopping future efforts like one that led to thousands of people being wrongly accused of fraud.

A workgroup developed the plan in response to a scandal at the agency -- an agency computer system erroneously said 37 thousand people collected benefits they weren’t entitled to. The state then sanctioned them quadruple damages.

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After wrongly accusing tens of thousands of people in Michigan of cheating on their unemployment benefits, the state is refunding $21 million to those Michiganders.

Attorney Jennifer Lord said that number is just “a drop in the bucket” of what the state has taken from those people, while Director of the Talent Investment Agency Wanda Stokes said the agency would do better in communicating with citizens and handling unemployment claims.

Amidst all of this, Zach Gorchow of Gongwer News Service has noted a conspicuous silence from one very important voice: Governor Rick Snyder.

Unemployment office sign
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LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The state of Michigan says it has reversed 70% of unemployment benefit fraud cases and is refunding $20.8 million after people were wrongly accused of collecting excessive benefits.

The Unemployment Insurance Agency announced the results of a review Friday. It reviewed more than 62,000 cases for people who were assessed a fraud penalty and did not seek an appeal. About 44,000 cases were reversed.

Michigan has been under fire for a computer system that wrongly churned out cases of fraud. Last month, it dropped criminal charges against 186 people.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement - or ICE - agents
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The Ingham County Sheriff's Office announced this week it will no longer detain people at the request of immigration, without a judge's order. It says immigration violations are "civil, not criminal, in nature, and are between the individual and the U-S Government." The Wayne County Sheriff's Office has a similar policy in place. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about whether other counties will follow suit.

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The state of Michigan is dropping charges and arrest warrants against nearly 200 people accused of illegally collecting unemployment benefits.

The warrants were issued against people who never showed up for court hearings after they were accused of defrauding the unemployment system. In many cases, the accused never knew they were charged with a crime.

The Michigan Talent Investment Agency asked for the arrest warrants to be dismissed because there’s a good chance the people accused actually didn’t do anything wrong.

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The Michigan Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit claiming the state wrongfully accused thousands of people of unemployment fraud.  

In 2013, the state started using an automated system to flag fraud cases. But the system wrongly identified tens of thousands of people – and some of them sued to get their money back, plus fees and interest.

But the court says they waited too long to file the lawsuit.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

We've all been caught in the grinder — whether it's government (the IRS saying you owe money for a property you never owned), business (the cable company charging you for a box you returned in 1997), or even a well meaning non-profit (you accidentally getting signed up with Pups That Poop —  a canine rescue for large dogs with bowel control issues — who now contact you every day to insist a Great Dane named Balthazar would be perfect for you and your studio apartment).

Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA)
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Attorneys for a number of people who say the state of Michigan wrongfully garnished their wages or seized their tax refunds hope an appeals court will rule quickly in their case.

Karl Williams says he’s one of tens of thousands of people who were wrongly accused of fraud by the state’s automated system for unemployment insurance.

The Lansing resident says the state is still garnishing his wages. He’s been working a ton of overtime to make ends meet.