Unemployment website

Unemployment woes continue for many across the state with nearly one million Michigan residents out of work and claiming benefits.

A new issue that TV5 viewers keep contacting us about is letters from the Unemployment Insurance Agency demanding some residents pay back some of the unemployment benefits they received.

“It’s been real tough,” said Anthony Slayton.

Slayton is stuck between a rock and a hard place after he said his unemployment benefits were cut off in November. Now he is being asked to pay it back. He is from Sanford and lost his job in the roofing industry when COVID-19 hit.

“I have five kids that depend on me. I am the sole provider of my family. So me not having income, means that no one has an income,” Slayton said.

Since January, the UIA started requesting Slayton pay back some of his benefits, more than $12,000.

“I don’t mind getting this money. I just don’t think it’s fair that I have to pay something back I was supposed to get in the first place,” Slayton said.

TV5 reached out to the UIA about Slayton’s problem and others. No one was available for comment. But Lynda Robinson, with the UIA, said letters noting benefits must be paid back are likely sent in the case of an overpayment, and are likely not a mistake. She said there is a multitude of reasons why some or all payments may be determined ineligible after initial approval.

She said some examples of what could cause an overpayment are failing to report all earnings for a particular week, refusal to work, or misrepresenting the facts of their unemployment. She also mentioned if anyone feels like there is an error, they should file a protest on their MIWAM account.

“I did do an appeal for the $12,000 thing. And I think I did another protest when they told me I wasn’t getting unemployment,” Slayton said.

No matter what Slayton does, he said he isn’t getting anywhere.

“I’m on the phone for hours trying to get through and when I actually do get through, I get hung up on,” he said.

Copyright 2021 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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