Whitmer signs bipartisan bills extending unemployment benefits 

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    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday signed Senate Bill 886 and Senate Bill 911 extending eligibility for unemployment insurance to 26 weeks, up from 20 weeks. The bipartisan legislation benefits Michiganders who have lost work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic until the end of the year. State Sen. Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth) sponsored the bills. 

    “No Michigander should have to worry about how to put food on the table or pay their bills, especially during a global pandemic,” said Whitmer. “These bipartisan bills are an important step in providing immediate relief for working families, but given the recent rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Michigan. 

    She also urged the state Legislature to take further action to make the extension permanent. Her predecessor, GOP Gov. Rick Snyder, signed legislation last decade slashing the number of weeks for jobless benefits. 

    Legislature OKs coronavirus unemployment bill after deal reached with gov.

    “Michiganders deserve better than a short-term extension that expires at the end of the year,” Whitmer said. “It’s time to work together on a long-term solution for working families.” 

    While the bills codified the majority of the governor’s executive orders on unemployment, the Legislature failed to extend the governor’s efforts to speed up claim processing by allowing UIA to review only a claimant’s most recent employer separation. UIA must now evaluate every job a worker has left in the past 18 months, which she said is a waste of resources because employers are not being directly charged for benefits paid at this time. 

    Since the beginning of COVID-19 crisis, Whitmer’s administration has paid over $25 billion in benefits to 2.2 million workers. Michigan was one of the first states to begin issuing the additional $600 pandemic benefit from the federal government. 

    The UIA announced it is now offering telephone appointments for customers with specific claim issues beginning Wednesday as offices remain closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The UIA expects to schedule up to 800 appointments per day.

    Almost 1M Michiganders will get a boost in jobless benefits

    Phone appointments can be made at Michigan.gov/uia and are available Monday through Friday from 8:15 a.m. to 4:25 p.m. Appointments are expected to take no more than 20 minutes. A customer service agent will call the customers on the designated day and time they choose from the agency’s customer service line – 866-500-0017. Claimants should be prepared to verify their identity with their Social Security Number and Driver’s License/State Identification Number.

    Customers can schedule an appointment up to one week in advance at for the following issues:

    • I filed under the wrong Social Security Number
    • My claim is inactive
    • I am unable to certify for all weeks needed
    • I need to file a claim, but one is already filed in my name
    • I do not have the link in MiWAM to file a claim
    Ken Coleman
    Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.