LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency is saying it will resolve backlogged claims for everyone who filed before May 1 before the end of next week.
As the state shut down large swathes of the economy to help slow the spread of coronavirus, more than 2.2 million people filed for unemployment between March 15 and June 23. The UIA says it has paid or approved benefits for nearly 95% of claimants, distributing $14.3 billion.
But 11,824 people who applied before May 1 — .5% of claimants — are still waiting to find out if they’re eligible. The state has set a goal to either pay those people, determine if they are ineligible and if so explain why, or deem them unreachable after multiple contact attempts by July 4.
The UIA says it should soon set a deadline for reaching everyone who filed after May 1.
“While most of our eligible workers have been paid, the unprecedented number of claims during this crisis means that there are still tens of thousands of real Michiganders needing one-on-one review to pay benefits,” UIA Director Steve Gray said in a Tuesday statement. “We know COVID-19 continues to cause fear and frustration for these families and we are working work around the clock and enhance our resources to quickly eliminate the remaining backlog and get every worker the emergency financial assistance they’re entitled to.”
Of the about 5% of claimants who haven’t been paid, the state is checking 90,000 for fraud and reviewing about 33,000 claims for other reasons.
The closure of brick-and-mortar UIA offices, also part of efforts to slow the spread of the virus, has not helped with the backlog. The Associated Press reports that lawmakers from both parties have urged Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to reopen those offices on an appointment-only basis to allow more people to resolve problems.