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Whitmer announces expanded benefits for unemployed due to virus

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer today announced new programs in Michigan that broaden who qualifies for unemployment benefits for workers affected by the COVID-19 situation.

The governor, under the federal CARES Act, signed an agreement between Michigan and the U.S. Department of Labor to start Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Compensation programs that grant benefits to workers such as the self-employed, 1099-independent contractors, gig and low-wage workers sidelined because of the pandemic.

The agreement also increases weekly benefits for all unemployed workers by $600 a week for up to four months and extends benefit payments from 26 to 39 weeks.

“The state of Michigan is dedicated to implementing measures to protect the health of all our residents and we understand financial health is critical as we meet this challenge together,” Whitmer said. “This increase and expansion of unemployment benefits will provide a measure of security for Michigan working families who lost their income due to the pandemic. We are committed to ensuring emergency financial relief for unemployed residents who continue to stay home and stay safe.”

The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency will provide additional guidance regarding eligibility and application details in the coming days as it puts these new programs in place.

Under the CARES Act, weekly benefits for all unemployed workers will be increased by $600 a week for up to four months. This applies to workers already in the unemployment system and eligible employees about to apply. These workers do not need to reapply and those about to apply do not need to take additional steps and should file as usual.

If a worker’s application has previously been denied by the UIA in the past three weeks, there is no need for them to reapply at this time. They will be notified by the agency with any additional action that may need to be taken.

“We appreciate the patience Michigan residents have shown with the unemployment system over the last few weeks as we continue to provide emergency financial assistance during this historical demand. I want to assure every eligible worker in our state who needs to apply for unemployment benefits that they will receive them,” said Jeff Donofrio, director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. “We continue to urge workers to apply online at Michigan.gov/ UIA and to utilize our new filing schedule based on their last name. UIA staff is working as hard and fast as they can to process claims and we continue to reallocate resources and upgrade technology to serve our customers.”

The day or time of day in which a claim is filed will not affect whether a worker receives benefits or their benefit amount. Additionally, claims will be back-dated to reflect the date in which a claimant was laid off or let go from their job due to COVID-19. The eligibility window to apply has also been increased from 14 to 28 days from the date of their work stoppage.

The new online filing schedule for Michigan.gov/ UIA is listed below. Workers are encouraged to go online during off-peak times between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.

— Last names beginning with letters A to L are asked to file claims on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays.

— Last names beginning with letters M to Z are asked to file claims on Sundays, Tuesdays or Thursdays.

— Saturdays will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.

For call center filings at 866-500-0017, the schedule will be to call between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.:

— Last names beginning with letters A to L are asked to call on Mondays and Wednesdays.

— Last names beginning with letters M to Z are asked to call on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

— Fridays will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.

For more information, go to Michigan.gov/UIA.

Information about this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

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