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People who got virus-related jobless pay must reapply

July 14, 2021 GMT

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — More than 600,000 Michigan residents who received pandemic-related unemployment aid are being told to update their accounts after the state learned that some reasons for eligibility approved months ago were wrong.

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, states had flexibility to interpret federal guidelines, but the U.S. Labor Department subsequently “became more prescriptive,” the Unemployment Insurance Agency said Wednesday.

The department will determine if benefits need to be repaid, spokeswoman Lynda Robinson said.

“We’re doing everything we can to help working families navigate this issue. ... The agency will evaluate each requalification on a case-by-case basis, and we are currently reviewing a waiver process,” said acting director Liza Estlund Olson.

Michigan has been paying an extra $300 a week in federal aid to jobless who qualify on top of maximum state benefits of $362.

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Rachael Kohl, an attorney with the Workers’ Rights Clinic, said many people receiving letters are back to work.

“I’m just hoping that the agency does the right thing, here,” Kohl told MLive.com. “Because at this point, this money’s been spent. And these people did nothing wrong to get it.”

Rep. Steve Johnson, R-Wayland, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said he would investigate the performance of the Unemployment Insurance Agency.