GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Thousands of people in Michigan who are trying to get their unemployment are now reaching out to state lawmakers for help.
State Representative Mark Huizenga, District 74, says he's getting a ton of calls and emails about Michigan's Unemployment Insurance.
People are now getting desperate and they're hoping the men and women they elected can fix the problem.
“This has probably been the worst part of the whole pandemic it’s just really frustrating," says Danielle Young.
She got laid off on March 17th. She's a personal trainer at MVP Athletic Club in Rockford, coach at Title Boxing in Grand Rapids, and she also teaches yoga doing classes once a week for the Cascade Fire Department.
“We’ve wrote letters, we’ve sent letters, we’ve faxed, we’ve emailed we’ve chat, we’ve done it all," she said.
One part of the claim mistakenly said she was not a US citizen and then she tried fixing her submissions with no luck.
“And then it says you need to click on this button called 'fraud confirmation' so I can submit my claim. You can’t click on the button. My husband put it up on his computer, and his phone, and my phone and and you cannot literally click on the button to go any further. So it’s like an I losing my mind here? It's just an uphill battle.”
Danielle's already reached out to some lawmakers but still has not heard back. But others say they are listening.
“People are sharing my cell phone number ‘call representative Huizenga he can help you’ it’s just really been nonstop,” said Michigan State Representative Mark Huizenga.
He's received hundreds and hundreds of calls and emails.
"She applied several weeks ago and hasn’t been able to get through. Here's one, ‘Mark I need help with unemployment benefits. I don’t know if you can help me. I applied on the 27th and I received a denial letter, I faxed a protest letter but couldn’t get on the phone lines to give response.’ So, it’s really a function of volume.”
While Huizenga is sympathetic with their position, he says the system that normally processes 3,000 claims a week, at the peak, was getting 300,000.
“The good news is is that if you qualify for benefits you’re gonna get paid. I know it puts people in a tough position they’re trying to make ends meet with their families but again, if you qualified, you’ll get paid," said Huizenga.
He chairs the General Government Committee and says the UIA put in new hardware and software and even doubled case workers.
“We’ve funded it as the governor requested in the past, I’m gonna guess that they’re gonna come back to us with more funding requests for additional dollars to make things more functional, but frankly, this level of volume is completely unprecedented.”
State Senate Majority Flood Leader Peter MacGregor also sent FOX 17 this statement saying:
“The state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has left a million of our fellow Michiganders without work, through no fault of their own.
“I am frustrated and disappointed that our governor did not better anticipate the overwhelming strain that her executive orders would place on the Unemployment Insurance Agency because of the mass unemployment resulting from her actions. The agency was ill-equipped and is lacking the appropriate resources to handle what is a terribly difficult time for so many people.
“As the head of our state, the governor should be expressing hope and optimism through this time of pain and uncertainty. Sadly, the governor showed no concern or sympathy in her aggressive actions that have taken away people’s livelihoods. Perhaps worse, her messages have been inconsistent, lacking a real plan to bring our state safely back to work.
“The people of Michigan deserve better.”
Danielle and some others I've spoken with understand that, they just wish the system was more user-friendly.
“Like I’ve tried to troubleshoot every day. Could it be this? What if I check this? It’s just.. I dunno.. it’s exhausting.”
Danielle still doesn't know what happened with her citizenship. But after talking with her, we were able to get her claim resolved and paid. But unfortunately we cannot fix every single issue.
If you'd like to find and contact your state lawmakers:
Don’t forget, we’re also talking with the deputy director of the unemployment agency tomorrow at 1pm.
You can find that on our Facebook page and while you're there, don't forget to like and join the FOX 17 REBOUND GROUP.
There are also words you may not understand on your claims. For those: CLICK HERE FOR COMMON UIA PHRASES EXPLAINED.