More people eligible for unemployment

Posted at 12:53 AM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-19 17:02:22-04

LANSING, Mich. — The problems and logjam on Michigan's unemployment website haven't completely cleared up, but it got even busier Monday.

A new group of unemployed workers became eligible for the benefit through the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Securities (CARES) Act, signed by Congress and the president in late March.

Workers who are self-employed, gig workers, independent contractors and low-wage workers are now eligible for $600 per week of unemployment if their job has been affected by COVID-19.

With the high number of people jumping on Monday morning, the website temporarily crashed, but it was up and running again later in the day.

For people like Amy Beth Fisher, the frustration with the website has been mounting for weeks.

She works two jobs and was originally told she qualified for Michigan unemployment benefits in mid-March. But when the money never came, she logged back in to her MiWAM account, and on the top of the claim, it said her account was "closed effective March 24."

"I have two teenage boys, and they're both home from school. They need lunch, breakfast and dinner," she told FOX 17.

"I've paid in, why am I not receiving? I work 70 hours a week. I work full-time at Grand Rapids Ophthalmology and part-time at Olive Garden."

And she has spent countless hours on the phone looking for answers but never gotten through.

Jason Moon, the communications director for Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, reiterated, "We have been working around the clock. This a priority for the governor herself, to make this emergency financial assistance available as quickly as possible. We expect even more demand on the system. We've experienced a historical increase in unemployment claims. In just the last few weeks, that's up over 5,000 percent."

Moon added, "It's estimated that 95% of workers out there that have tried to obtain unemployment have received it. There are just a few Michiganders out there, now it's a large number given the total, not the volume. But there's a certain number of folks that we want to remain patient."