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Muskegon County woman denied PUA; told to pay back $1,400

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Posted at 5:52 PM, Jan 13, 2021

WOLF LAKE, Mich. — Hundreds of thousands of people are still waiting for their unemployment checks. They either haven’t been paid at all, or they’re unable to file.

Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency updated claimants Monday saying some have started getting their $300 weekly federal boost while those on PUA cannot even file.

READ MORE: UIA begins paying $300 supplemental benefit payments

Some people are even getting denied when they couldn’t find work due to the virus.

“I never got through to them. Never. I’ve tried to call them, and they say, 'Call back later,'” said Sharon Tucker of Wolf Lake.

She’s frustrated with the state’s unemployment insurance agency. The 77-year-old great grandma tells me she worked in home health care most of her life.

Last spring she was caring for Marianne Karnitz, who is wheelchair bound. When Marianne’s husband passed in April, Sharon provided 24/7 care. A couple months later, the family put her in a nursing home, leaving Sharon without a job.

“And I didn’t want to go and try to go into other people's homes that I didn’t know the people coming and going and all that, because I had kidney cancer, had my kidney out, and now I got bladder cancer and COPD, and I just figured I was too high a risk to be going into these other places.”

Sharon signed up for PUA benefits in July and received an approval letter for 39 weeks.

“With the way unemployment’s been, they would pay me for a couple weeks, and then I wouldn’t get a check for a month, and then they’d pay me another couple weeks, and it went on like that, then finally they just quit paying anything,” said Tucker.

In November, she got a notice claiming she misrepresented herself and had been overpaid.

That same month she got another document from the agency telling her “you have not established that your separation is COVID-19 related.”

“Then they turn around and told me I owed them $1,400, and I can’t afford that,” she said.

While Sharon waits for answers, thousands of others cannot even file, and they’re still out the extra payments from the government.

The UIA released an update Monday saying the $300 weekly federal boost payments have finally started going out, but only to those on state (UI) and extended benefits (EB).

The money is payable from Dec. 27 through March 13 and will be automatic, meaning you don’t have to do anything extra other than certify to get it.

If you’re getting Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, there’s really no update for you at the time and no action for you to take.

The agency says certifications and payments will not be issued yet for any weeks after Dec. 26 until technical updates are made to the UI system.

Sharon’s hopeful things will get fixed for her and the agency will drop the overpayments. She tells FOX 17 she can hardly even cover her medical bills.

“And like about every three months it’s been that I have to go in, have surgery to have more cancer removed, then I have more bills on top of that, so I’m continuously paying medical bills,” said Tucker.

Sharon filed a protest and is waiting on an answer from the agency.

The UIA is now looking into her case.

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