LANSING, Mich. — Members of the Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic heard testimony Wednesday from residents who have yet to receive their benefits, despite the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) recently claiming to have completed all cases filed before May 1.
“The agency recently issued a press release announcing they completed all of the cases submitted prior to May 1, but several people, including one of my constituents, testified that they had not received the benefits promised to them, despite applying well before May 1,” said Sen. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton, vice chair of the committee.
Immediately after testifying, Nesbitt’s constituent was contacted by the UIA and the problem, which the agency claimed did not exist, was resolved.
“Residents have been jumping through hoops to try and receive their benefits and it’s disappointing that people need to testify before a legislative committee in order to receive the help they deserve,” Nesbitt said. “Some folks have called numerous times only to be hung up on and not get anywhere, while others failed to receive assistance through the online system.”
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March, more than 2 million people have filed for unemployment assistance. The agency has been plagued with accusations of slow response times; not answering emails, messages or calls; and not responding to mail-in documents, among other issues.
The Legislature approved bills that became law that included funding to hire more temporary workers to assist with the backlog of cases.
Nesbitt said in the meantime, the committee will continue its work getting answers for the people of Michigan.
“My colleagues and I remain committed to getting to the bottom of the state’s lackluster response to the coronavirus,” Nesbitt said. “People lost their jobs and businesses closed their doors while the administration failed to prepare the unemployment agency for the inevitable onslaught of cases and then reacted far too slowly when the issue came to light.
“Michigan families deserve better and we will continue working to not only get people the benefits owed to them, but to ensure the state improves its response to COVID-19.”
Nesbitt added those still facing difficulties with the UIA should share their story at the website micovidstory.com.