State to clear unemployment backlog by July 4

    Susan J. Demas

    By the Fourth of July, Michiganders who have not yet heard back about their unemployment benefits should receive a determination either way.

    Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) announced Tuesday that it aims to resolve the 11,824 still-pending claims made prior to May 1 by July 4, clearing about .5% of all claims made since Michigan’s COVID-19 outbreak began. The agency has been the subject of many complaints from those with issues in filing claims and from GOP lawmakers who have held several legislative hearings on problems.

    “Our goal is to have every unemployment claim filed before May 1st resolved by the end of next week,” UIA Director Steve Gray said in a statement. “While most of our eligible workers have been paid, the unprecedented number of claims during this crisis means that there are still tens of thousands of real Michiganders needing one-on-one review to pay benefits.”

    Gray acknowledged that many families who have still not received emergency financial assistance are rightly feeling fearful and frustrated, but said the UIA is “working around the clock” to enhance the agency’s resources and eliminate the remaining backlog of claims.

    UIA clears more than 200K flagged unemployment claims 

    The UIA has been swamped with a historic number of unemployment claims since COVID-19 was first detected in the state and businesses began shutting down, forcing the agency to shift gears, hire additional staff and commit more resources to addressing the influx.

    Since March 15, approximately 2.2 million eligible Michiganders have applied for state and federal benefits. Over 2 million of those have received a total of $14.3 billion in benefits so far.

    According to the UIA, 94.5% of all eligible claimants have received benefits or have at least been approved. Most of the remaining unpaid claims are flagged for potential impostor fraud (about 90,000), while about 33,000 are held pending adjudication for other reasons.

    As for pending claims filed after May 1, the agency said it will soon announce a target date to clear those, as well.

    Laina G. Stebbins
    Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, immigration and criminal justice. She is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or listening to podcasts, she loves art and design, discovering new music, being out in nature and spending time with her two cats Rainn and Remy.