Michigan House of Representatives approves changes to unemployment insurance benefits administration

The Michigan House of Representatives on Jan. 27 approved a package of bills proposing changes to the state’s system of unemployment insurance benefits administration. The legislation comes after an audit discovered the UIA paid at least $8.5 billion in improper benefits between March 2020 and December 2021.

The package includes bills prohibiting the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) from charging employer accounts for improperly paid benefits, requiring the UIA to approve or deny unemployment insurance claims within 15 calendar days during times of regular claim volume, and requiring the UIA to track monthly the amount of money in the state’s Unemployment Trust Fund (UTF). The UIA would also be required to report to the state budget director and legislative appropriations committees if the UTF balance dropped below certain levels.

The House sent the package to the state Senate for consideration.

Unemployment insurance refers to a joint federal and state program that provides temporary monetary benefits to eligible laid-off workers who are actively seeking new employment. Qualifying individuals receive unemployment compensation as a percentage of their lost wages in the form of weekly cash benefits while they search for new employment.

The federal government oversees the general administration of state unemployment insurance programs. The states control the specific features of their unemployment insurance programs, such as eligibility requirements and length of benefits.

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