Michigan House Republicans
Rep. Lightner: Unemployment agency hid error for six months before notifying recipients
RELEASE|August 19, 2021

Legislator calls on UIA not to charge residents for its own failures

State Rep. Sarah Lightner today said the people of Michigan deserve answers from the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency after a letter from the federal government revealed the state agency hid an error from the public for six months before recipients were notified.

As early as Jan. 6, the federal government told the state agency that multiple qualification requirements the state had developed were not in compliance with federal law. As a result of the error, the UIA sent letters in June informing nearly 600,000 people that they would be required to fill out additional paperwork to determine if they were truly eligible for the pandemic unemployment assistance they received. If not, the UIA says they may be required to pay money back to the state.

“This whole situation is a mess,” Lightner said. “The unemployment agency failed to do its job, then hid it from the public for six months without finding a solution before sending confusing and concerning letters to people who were forced out of work by the governor’s orders during the pandemic. These people have been put through enough. They shouldn’t owe the Whitmer administration a dime.”

This week, several residents testified before the House Oversight Committee about their situations and the amount of money the UIA has told them they may have to repay. Some totals were as high as $27,000.

“These are people who applied for unemployment benefits because they were put out of work during the economic shutdown,” Lightner said. “They used the money they received to pay their bills and put food on the table. There’s no way they should have to pay it back. Instead of keeping the public in the dark about these issues, the agency should be working with legislators to keep residents informed and find solutions.”

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