Michigan won't require repayment of $431 million in unemployment benefits overpaid during pandemic

A person fills out an unemployment benefits application.

Many Michiganders who were overpaid unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic will not have to pay the money back.

Repayment will be waived on about $431 million that was overpaid to more than 55,000 people.

Also, about $11 million will be refunded to claimants who had been paying back their federal benefits overpayment, or it will be applied to outstanding debts they may have.

"This is a huge weight lifted off so many Michiganders’ shoulders," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. "No Michigander who did the right thing when applying for benefits should be required to pay anything back resulting from errors at the federal level. At every turn, I will stand up and fight on behalf of Michiganders to make sure they get what they were promised. Thanks to these waivers that we fought for and secured Michiganders will get to keep their hard-earned money." 

The Unemployment Insurance Agency has notified claimants who received waivers by posting messages to their Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) accounts. Letters will also be mailed in the coming days.

"This is wonderful news for those who lost their job through no fault of their own," UIA Director Julia Dale said. "The federal jobless assistance programs were a critical lifeline for many Michiganders affected by the global pandemic and our action today means they will be able to continue to provide for their families without the fear of having to pay back benefits awarded through agency error."

According to the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, the number of claimants receiving waivers is lower than the conditional number UIA Director Dale provided in recent testimony. Additional testing over the last week by FAST developers revealed the early numbers to overlap with waivers issued last fall by the agency. However, UIA continues to work with their partners at FAST and DTMB to identify other groups of claimants who might also qualify for an overpayment waiver.

Whitmer called on the U.S. Department of Labor to expand the eligibility for waivers for Michigan workers who received federal assistance, and Dale advocated for waivers. In February, the request for expanded waivers was granted.

"I want to thank the governor for her proactive efforts to seek federal guidance on issuing waivers for overpayments to claimants who did the right thing when the applied for benefits," Dale said. "We will continue to review federal UI cases to make sure everyone who qualifies for an overpayment waiver will receive one."