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Rep. Hall: UIA in need of further examination following latest error
RELEASE|July 21, 2021
Contact: Matt Hall

State Rep. Matt Hall today criticized Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency for its latest misstep – as hundreds of thousands of federal pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA) claimants in Michigan have been asked to re-file information to make sure they’re eligible. 

The qualifications for PUA benefits – made available by the federal government to part-time workers and self-employed individuals who don’t usually qualify for state aid – are now in question due to state-developed data that was rejected by the federal government. As a result, almost 650,000 people were sent letters in June and informed that if their eligibility determination changes, they may be forced to pay back what they received plus interest. 

“With all of the uncertainty that COVID-19 and executive orders in response caused people, it’s an added layer of stress to receive a letter saying you may have to pay back thousands of dollars while being charged interest on something that wasn’t your fault,” said Hall, of Marshall. “This isn’t money that is sitting in the bank accounts of Michigan residents or money that was stashed under the mattress. If you received this money, you likely used it to pay bills or support your family in a time of hardship. So in many instances where an eligibility determination is reversed, the state will be trying to claw back money that people no longer have. 

“This is the latest issue for UIA in a long line of issues we have seen during the state’s response to COVID-19. This was an agency that was struggling to deliver quality service to people even in normal times. During COVID-19, it has been a profound pattern of ineptitude.” 

Hall said he supports House Oversight Committee chair Steve Johnson’s plan to investigate the agency and examine what led to the state not being on the same page with the federal government regarding qualification.

Hall chaired the House Oversight Committee during the 2019-20 legislative term. While also chairing the Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic, Hall held a series of hearings with agency leaders to provide people across Michigan with accountability and transparency as hundreds of thousands struggled to get their claims fulfilled.  

The problems, under former director Steve Gray, included staffing issues, increased exposure to fraud due to decisions made by the agency and people waiting months to get needed unemployment payments while not being able to contact anyone at the agency. Gray resigned in November and was replaced by Liza Estlund Olson. 

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