The Michigan Unemployment Agency has created a debacle, that they can’t seem to get right.
The pandemic was something the collective world had never experienced before. There are a few people who are 100 and were born during the last pandemic, but I don’t think they really remember being a part of it. For the most part, no one really knew what to do unless you were a scientist and know how viruses work (thank you Dr. Fauci and company). So, when this started and people began losing their jobs or leaving their jobs for medical reasons, many assumed there were things in place to cover the average American. I think sometimes, we give this government too much credit.
There was job loss all across this country when the pandemic started, and Michigan is no different. There are people who may have been in-between jobs, or on disability from a job… etc, there are so many scenarios here that people didn’t know what to do. The news and government told people to sign up for unemployment. I don’t think I need to tell you, many did and I don’t blame them. Losing your job like that, even for a few weeks, could mean homelessness. So, if your job shut down, or you didn’t have a job, or were a health risk at the job and you sign up for unemployment, why are you asked to pay back money? Let me lay out all of the info.
January 2020 is when I think we started hearing more about a virus from China called Coronavirus or Covid-19. It stayed out of the US for a while, but we knew it would eventually make its way to the states. Who knows how long it was actually here before we even noticed. And with the dysfunction in the white house at the time, there was no stopping it. Finally, about mid-March we hear of our first cases here in Michigan. That’s it, it finally made it here. Now what? I can tell you from experience that my father wasted no time in telling his job that he had to step away. He is a cancer survivor, but also a Type 2 diabetic, overweight, and has high blood pressure. I don’t really care who you think is more at risk at this point, because too many people have already died and if you deny that fact then we don’t have anything to talk about.
My father went home and applied for unemployment insurance. He has worked his entire life. This should be what it is meant for. He was approved, but so were many others. The first step in applying for unemployment insurance is to simply fill out the form. They ask basic questions like name, address, DOB, SSN, where you worked, how long you worked there, why did you leave, and things of that nature. They want to know why you want Unemployment Insurance money. You lay it all out and you see if you are approved and for how much. This is where Michigan Unemployment royally messed up.
This is a pandemic, no one knows what to do. So, if you apply and the questions they ask you correlate to your situation, you’re going to be relieved that you were eligible. The reason so many people applied, is because it fit their situation. And unemployment added specialty questions because it is a pandemic. Here are the certification questions after people were approved:
Most of those questions were a non issue because almost everything was closed at the start of the pandemic, except grocery stores and some restaurants.
The next part of the certification process are the “Pandemic Questions”. If you remember, this gave and extra $300 a week on top of regular unemployment. Here are the questions for that part:
As you can see from the questions above, these were specially formulated questions that included people from all walks of life to be APPROVED. This person even had a doctors order not to work because of their immune system. They listed literally every option as to why you weren’t able or unavailable to work. If you read number 12, it states that you were seeking part-time work but not able to find it during Covid-19. That is a logical reason not to be able to find employment. And number 13 states how you may not be eligible for regular unemployment, and you couldn’t obtain any because of the pandemic.
Look at it in this perspective, there are dozens of people I spoke to who applied for unemployment, thinking they were going to be denied because they weren’t working at the start of the pandemic, then they were approved. They gave information about themselves truthfully. Insufficient work history, looking for work, but unable to find any and they were approved. You do your bi-weekly certification and answer the questions and UIA still pays you. 2 years later, UIA says, “Whoops, you weren’t supposed to get that, you owe us $25,000.” That is not the fault of the people of Michigan. People were filing because they thought it was ok to do so since it was a pandemic.
I have to say, if you want to assume people knew they weren’t supposed to apply because they weren’t working, then you’d assume wrong. Like I said at the beginning, no one knew what to do. A pandemic is a once in a lifetime occurrence. You also cannot assume that people applied fraudulently. There are many people out there who made hundreds of thousands and even millions by using peoples identity to steal money. That is wrong and those people should be punished, but the people who gave truthful information from the start can’t be asked to pay back a year and half worth of money.
Further into the pandemic, UIA tried to trick people and change up the questions a bit.
After many months of answering the same questions over and over, they switched the questions, got rid of some, and moved others around. Think of people who memorized the order of the questions and answered incorrectly here. This was their way of trying to cut people off, I believe. Even with the switch up of questions, these still pertain to many people. Some had went back to work, but numbers were still pretty high and people were still getting pretty sick. Why risk going in when you shouldn’t have to?
All in all, I feel bad for people who are receiving these notices saying they owe the state thousands of dollars when it was never the fault of the people. There were about 55,000 waivers that went out, but they only covered certain people and many more have to wait and see if they will receive one. Right now, they are sending waivers for people who put gross earnings instead of net earnings which resulted in overpayment. This is fine and all, but in the same article, the UIA director said they want to remove “bad actors” . What the hell does that even mean? She doesn’t know someones intent, even if someone set out to get money, how are they supposed to prove it? They can’t. They need to go after the people who stole identities (because those are reported) and leave the rest alone. To think you will get money back from people who were approved for it is asinine.
The final straw in this will be when the law suits start moving through the courts more and hopefully judges will see who was at fault here.