In March as everything shut down, my son filed for unemployment. He filed in a timely manner and answered all the relative questions. His employer provided the necessary documentation required for his unemployment benefits to be approved. Everything should have been running smoothly.
It’s kind of laughable, really. Or, it would be if it weren’t for the financial aspect of it all. Months of unemployment benefits, including his Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation [FPUC], that were never paid to him.
It all started with a letter in April. It’s dated March 30th, 2020. The envelope is stamped ***LANSING MI 488 4/6/20***.
The letter tells him that he filed a claim on April 10, 2019. [he filed in March 2020] The letter goes on to tell him that he has been determined eligible for benefits. It tells him what his weekly benefit amount will be, confirms that he has no dependents. It confirms that he is eligible for 26 weeks and that the claim will be eligible for one full year. That year is listed as April 07, 2019 through April 04, 2020. [sidenote: he received two weeks of unemployment benefits in June of 2019 during the automotive shutdown]
the mistake he made
He admits that he probably didn’t read the dates. He skimmed the letter, saw his approval, and assumed the dates were correct. Who was checking for 2019 in their unemployment letters?
is anyone actually working at MiUIA?
When his money never arrived, he checked the letter again. He figured he must have missed something. Who would have guessed that what he missed was a date discrepancy that we cannot fathom how it was allowed to be mailed to begin with.
So began his quest for assistance. I should take a moment to tell you that my son has Asperger’s. As a result, his interpersonal skills are lacking. Communication can be panic inducing for him. Still, he attempted to reach out via the MiWAM chat and web service mail options. He also tried to reach someone by phone. [We assume that if he can just reach someone he can grant permission for me to conduct his business.]
No one answers
He calls, he writes, he tries their chat option. He gets no response to the web service mail, though he’s sent message after message after message. The chat option on MiWAM thanks him for contacting the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency. It then claims that due to heavy chat volumes, they are unable to take his chat as agents are assisting others. They ask him to try again. After selecting menu option after menu option after menu option, the call center [866-500-0017] tells him that all the operators are busy assisting others and hangs up on him after suggesting he try again later.
he’s back to work, why aren’t they?
My son returned to work on June 15, 2020. He continues to reach out to MiUIA via their web service. He has attempted to reach somebody via MiWAM chat while getting ready for work. He’s tried to call the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency, and so have I. It’s always the same. There’s no one at the other end to help.
Acting on his behalf
My son has been unsuccessful in finding any assistance. I’ve begun reaching out on his behalf. First, I reached out to Steve Gray (director of the MiUIA). He didn’t respond to either of my emails, and my son saw no change in his MiWAM account and received no response to his MiWAM web service mails.
Today, I’ve expanded my email campaign. I’ve reached out to a handful of people including the director of Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, Jeff Donofrio. After all, his name is at the top of the letter. I also emailed my local state representative and state senator.
The wait begins again. But, I won’t be waiting dormant. I’ll be collecting my next list of people to add to the email list. I’ll just keep on climbing up the ladder until somebody helps him.
My son is a low income hourly employee. He can’t afford to hire someone to do this battle for him. I’m the fighter in his corner.
If you know of anyone within the state of Michigan whom I should contact, please leave their title and information in the comments section.
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