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State grants waivers to 55,000 who received overpayments of federal pandemic unemployment insurance benefits

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Michigan Radio

More than 55,000 people in Michigan who were overpaid by federal pandemic unemployment benefits won't have to pay those benefits back.

The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency says the overpayments were the fault of the federal government, not those who got the benefits.

But an attorney who has filed a class action lawsuit against the state over the mistakes says the news is disappointing.

David Blanchard says the 55,000 number is a tiny fraction of the people hurt by the government's initial demand for repayment.

"It's just another example of the failure of the system that so many people were relying on through this pandemic," he said.

Julia Dale, Director of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency, told state legislators in April that more than 380,000 people might have waivers coming.

The waivers would relieve them of the requirement to repay money from unemployment benefits that they weren't entitled to receive.

But UIA now says that number was a miscount, which included previously-issued waivers.

The issue is reminiscent of another unemployment scandal in Michigan - when a new computer program mistakenly flagged thousands of unemployment benefit recipients of fraud, between Oct. 1 of 2013 and August 7, 2015.

The state of Michigan settled the case in 2017.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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