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Here's how to file for unemployment and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Courtesy: UIA

The Michigan unemployment insurance application process is back online. After crashing Monday because of the huge volume of applicants, the state added new servers. The Unemployment Insurance Agency has also added new people to take phone call applications. 600,000 people are now receiving benefits. Another 700,000 applications have been approved for payments. The agency expects the number to continue to climb this week.

It advises if you need to file, do it online and do it overnight after 8:00 p.m. when the volume is lower. (Story continues below.)

Self-employed people, those who work in the gig economy, and even those whose unemployment benefits have run out still can get some help.

Steve Gray is the Director of Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency. He says people not typically eligible for unemployment, could eligible for the CARES stimulus payment of $600 a week.

Starting this week you can apply for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance basically the same way you’d apply for unemployment, but you have to re-certify weekly.

“They're checking to make sure that you're claiming benefits and that you continue to be eligible and you don't have any new outside income,” Gray explained.

The benefits can be backdated to the date a person lost work because of COVID-19.

If you don’t want to go to work only because you’re afraid you might get sick with COVID-19, you’re probably not eligible for unemployment insurance.

"For individuals who are sick, for individuals who have that unexpected family or childcare situation, who are quarantined or who are immunocompromised in some way they would be eligible for unemployment insurance," said Jeff Donofrio, director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. "At this point, for those who are not falling into that category, they would not,”

If your employer is not following CDC guidelines for social distancing, you can file a complaint with MIOSHA, the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Michigan Radio listeners, readers, and reporters are rising to the challenge every day. If you can, please support essential journalism during this crisis.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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