Unemployment insurance claims up 4,000%, man speaks on experience filing

Posted at 12:01 AM, Apr 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-19 17:09:21-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The state is increasing call center resources for people filing for unemployment insurance now that those claims are up 4,000% in Michigan.

Some people tell Fox 17 that the help is not coming fast enough, and in some places, it isn't coming at all.

Many of the people who have been laid off say they still haven't been paid. Many of them say they've been spending hours on the phone with no answers.

Todd Hanson says he's still waiting for that unemployment check.

“I’ve certified twice since filing on March 15th and have yet to receive a check.”

He makes auto parts for Novares in Grand Rapids. He was laid off because of Covid-19.

He says at 48-years-old, this is the first time he's had to file.

“I have called several hundred times, most of the time I call the 866-500-0017 number is just goes dead. It doesn’t ring, it doesn’t do anything it clicks one time and goes dead. I’ve never been able to speak to any one.”

He also says another recording tells him to report in person, which he cannot do because the offices are closed.

Now he's gone nearly a month without a check.

Jason Moon is a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Development, Which oversees unemployment insurance.

“We do want to assure that every eligible Michigan worker who applies for benefits will receive them.”

The agency is still trying to figure out how gig and self-employed workers will also get paid even though they can technically apply.

“ They can, they will be denied because our system is not ready for that because we were waiting on that federal guidance to build this new application and new eligibility requirements - it was very detailed and we were waiting for instructions from the federal government, so we will build that in the next day or two.”

He Tells Fox 17 the agency has seen an increase from 5,000% up to 4,000% in new claims.

But they've tried to match that by increasing their staff from 130 people up to 500, and he says more will be added.

Moon says even if you haven't seen any money yet, you won't miss out.

“Those claims will be backdated from the date of their last day of employment."

even with the extra staff computer sessions are timing out and some callers still can't get through.

Hanson said, “I have tried and tried and tried. I’ve emailed the governor’s office. I’ve called the governor’s constituency services number. I’ve received no information from them. I’ve not had a phone call from them. I’ve emailed and called all day that’s all I do.”

If people do get through and their call gets disconnected, they have to wait all over again.

Hanson says he, and many others like him, are out of luck and money. That's why he is sending this message to Whitmer and her staff.

“You have a job to do. These people out here we’re going without food in some cases. There’s gas that needs to be put in our cars. We have other things we have to do, it takes money to do that. We all have jobs. We all rely on this.”

The state is still working out the extra $600 dollar payment from the federal government.

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