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Michigan working on plan to reopen unemployment offices

Many people wait weeks to get answers about claims
Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 5:09 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - It's been a frustrating few months for a lot of people trying to collect their unemployment benefits.

Unemployment offices across the state have been shut down since March. People are still driving the offices looking to get answers.

"I was a little disgruntled to find it was closed," said Chris Cox.

Cox is trying to figure out why he still hasn’t received unemployment benefits after waiting several weeks. Monday, he thought he’d try getting help from the unemployment office in Lansing.

"It's been a difficult process trying to work through the online system and run into errors and not be able to get technical support," he said.

Jesse Knapp has tried visiting the office to figure out why he hasn't been getting paid in the last 16 weeks.

“It’s very frustrating, I’ve got three children to take care of, me and my wife,” Knapp said. “I got bills to pay, I got car insurance, I got rent.”

The Unemployment Insurance Agency denied News 10's request for an interview.

In a statement, a spokesperson said it is working with the Office of the State Employer to create a reopening plan.

UIA Director Steve gray told the COVID-19 Oversight Committee last month they are trying to balance the health of employees and the public.

"We also don't want to have a similar experience that they had in Kentucky, where I feel they probably opened their offices too early, and had 10 hour lines," Gray said during the June 22 hearing.

Gray told lawmakers other state agencies, like the Secretary of State, were able to reopen branches because they had systems in place before the pandemic.

"We don't, didn't have and are working on an appointment system that's ready and in place," said Gray.

Cox is hoping that system can be put in place sooner rather than later.

"It's very difficult to have to wonder about what's going to take place and maybe when you are going to get an update on something that maybe a simple question that could be resolved," said Cox.

The Unemployment Insurance Agency hasn’t set a target date to reopen offices.

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