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People still not collecting unemployment benefits because of fraudulent claims

Michigan’s Unemployment Trust Fund is in better shape than expected
Michigan's Unemployment Agency trust fund is in better shape than surrounding states' fund.
Michigan's Unemployment Agency trust fund is in better shape than surrounding states' fund.(WILX)
Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 9:53 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Michigan’s Unemployment Trust Fund is in better shape than it was expected to be earlier this summer.

The Unemployment Insurance Agency predicted the $4.6 billion fund would run out July 31, when the federal government stopped helping. As of August 31, that fund still had $1.5 billion.

The UIA said Wednesday it paid nearly $22 billion in unemployment benefits to more than 2.1 million workers, with most of that money coming from the federal government.

In a news release, it said there are fewer than 42,000 unpaid workers. However, not everyone has been able to file a claim because their identities were stolen.

“It’s the most frustrating thing I’ve dealt with in a very long time,” said Shana Newsome.

Newsome has tried filing for unemployment since March, but she said she can’t properly file a claim because someone stole her Social Security number.

“I was shocked. I was actually in the store shopping and I dropped my stuff on the ground because everything horrible just went through my mind,” she said.

Newsome said someone used her social security number to file a fake claim, so the system won’t let her file a legit claim.

The state investigated more than 300,000 potential fraudulent claims earlier this year and hired extra staff to do it.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer told News 10 in an interview last month that’s part of the reason why people like Newsome can’t get help in the local offices.

“Opening up some offices with the same size workforce we have now doesn’t change the speed with which we can move,” said Governor Whitmer.

Newsome said she’s lost hope in the system because the error was found in the spring. It wasn’t until Tuesday when someone in the UIA’s fraud department was assigned to her case.

“It’s something different every time I call. It’s going to be a week and we’ll have it fixed. I found out about the fraud thing about five months ago. I get all the promises to call back. Nothing,” said Newsome.

UIA director Steve Gray is scheduled to appear before the Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic Thursday. This week, the state legislature approved accepting the federal government’s extra $300-a-week unemployment benefit. This replaces the $600-a-week people were getting until July 31.

Governor Whitmer is expected to sign off, which would allow the extra $300 be applied to claims back to August 1.

If Michigan’s unemployment trust fund runs out, the state would be able to borrow money from the federal government, interest free.

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