Michigan: 350K who got unemployment aid won’t have to repay

About 350,000 Michigan residents who received federal unemployment aid will not have to repay benefits even though the state told them that it mistakenly approved some eligibility reasons at the start of the pandemic.

The Unemployment Insurance Agency said Friday that it will waive overpayments for the group, including many who might no longer be collecting benefits. They are among nearly 600,000 claimants — the self-employed, independent contractors and others who do not typically qualify for benefits — who were asked to requalify for the federal assistance, which is $300 a week on top of maximum state benefits of $362.

The agency learned that eligibility reasons it authorized at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic were later found by the U.S. Labor Department to be non-qualifying. It has said federal officials became more "prescriptive" to states regarding guidelines.

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The 350,000 are those who did not respond to the notifications. About 241,000 people did respond.

"We’re reviewing their cases to determine if they have an eligible COVID-19-related reason and if they may continue to receive benefits," Liza Estlund Olson, the agency’s acting director, said in a statement. "For those who did not respond, we want to assure them that claimants who are no longer eligible won’t have to return the money they received when, through no fault of their own, they chose one of the four non-eligible reasons."

Overpayment waivers are expected to be granted to the group of 241,000 residents, too. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently said no one who followed the rules should have to pay back money to the federal government.

The extra $300 weekly benefit is due to end Sept. 4 under federal law.