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93% Of UIA Claimants Approved For Benefits

June 23, 2020

The Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) reported Friday that 93% of eligible claimants have been approved for benefits and most of the remaining 7% are suspected of being fraudulent.

Nearly 140,000 unemployment insurance claims are outstanding with UIA, and 100,000 have been flagged as being bogus. The remaining 37,000 unpaid claims are being held up for other reasons.

“Our focus remains on getting 100% of eligible Michigan workers 100% of the benefits they deserve,” said UIA Director Steve Gray. “We are using every available resource to verify the identity of legitimate claimants whose payments are held due to increased criminal activity, including 850 dedicated employees and newly formed advanced analytics team.”

State unemployment insurance systems across the country have been targeted by well-organized criminals using previously stolen or false personal information. The agency has cleared a majority of all accounts flagged for a further look due to the criminal attacks. 

More than 100,000 of the 200,000 newly flagged claims were also cleared.

“We’re definitely making up ground,” said UIA spokesperson Jason Moon.

Since March 15, roughly 2.1 million people have applied for state and federal benefits with $11.4 billion in benefits paid to more than 2 million workers.

Rep. Matt Hall (R-Emmett Twp.), chair of the COVID-19 Pandemic Committee, was perturbed that the numbers he received from UIA on Thursday were vastly different from those he received Friday.

On Thursday, he was told 166,133 Michiganders who filed for claims hadn’t gotten paid, an increase from the 124,000 from May 21. Hall was alarmed that the numbers have gone up instead of down.

However, the updated information has the number who hadn’t gotten paid to 137,000, and three-quarters of those may not even be real people.

“It took me a month to get an updated number from UIA on how many people statewide have still not received any payment for their unemployment claim. In less than 24 hours, UIA has provided two vastly different numbers,” Hall said.

“This inconsistency speaks to what the Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic has looked into and what people who have been frustrated with the state’s unemployment system have told us for weeks: that UIA does not have a firm grasp on the severity of this issue.”

Gray is slated to return to Hall’s committee on Wednesday to continue talking about the situation.

In related news, Michigan had the nation’s third-highest unemployment rate for the month of May, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS).

Michigan’s 21.2% unemployment rate trailed only Nevada (25.3%) and Hawaii (22.6%). The rates in Delaware (15.8%), Florida (14.5%), Massachusetts (16.3%) and Minnesota (9.9%) were the highest recorded for each state since the BLS began taking statistics using its current method in 1976.

Michigan’s May unemployment was 17 percentage points higher than May 2019.

However, Michigan was second to Vermont (6.4%) for the highest percentage of non-farm payroll job gains (5.2%) in the month of May from April.

The nation’s lowest unemployment rate was in Nebraska (5.2%).

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