Short-Term Pause on Collection of Overpayments
In late December 2022, Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) said it would temporarily stop trying to collect overpayments from people who filed for unemployment insurance since March 1, 2020. This means the UIA should stop sending collection letters or doing anything else to make people pay these overpayments.
We do not know how long this pause will last or when the UIA will start trying to collect these overpayments again. We will update this page if we get more information. Make sure to keep your contact information updated in your Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) account so you get any notices from the UIA.
This is a pause on collections only. The appeal process and deadlines are still the same. You may get notices about your case during the collections pause. It is very important to read the notices, and protest or appeal on time using the process below if you disagree with the UIA's decision.
In some cases, the UIA might send a refund of payments you have already made. If you get a refund, make sure you carefully read any notices or information you get explaining the refund. The refund might not mean that the case is over. If the UIA later decides that you still owe the overpayment, they might start trying to collect from you again.
If the UIA tries to collect from you during the pause, you can try contacting the UIA's Benefit Overpayment Collection unit at 1-866-500-0017. If you run into problems, you may want to try to contact a lawyer. You can use the Guide to Legal Help to get information about finding a lawyer.
What Is an Overpayment Notice?
An overpayment happens when you receive more unemployment money than you should have received. This may have happened for a few reasons, like if you made a mistake when certifying your benefits, were unable or unavailable to work, or you knowingly gave false or misleading information when filing a claim.
If you got unemployment benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, you may have received a notice for overpayment. To get benefits under the PUA program, the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) must have determined that your unemployment was directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. If the UIA believes you were overpaid, they will send you a letter. Your next steps will depend on whether you agree or disagree with the UIA’s determination letter.
If You Disagree with the UIA’s Determination
If you got an overpayment notice and disagree with it, you can protest and ask the UIA to look at your claim again. The UIA must get your written protest within 30 days from the date it is issued. Each letter will have a due date printed on your determination for when the protest is due. If the UIA doesn’t get your protest within 30 days, you must show good cause why it was late.
Good cause can be very hard to prove. If you can’t show good cause, the decision that you were overpaid will become final. Some examples of good cause include:
- An administrative or clerical error is discovered
- You had a legitimate inability to act earlier
- You did not receive notice of a decision
- The notice or decision arrived late in the mail and you could not respond sooner
- You were misled by incorrect information from the UIA
You can protest online through your Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM). Once you have logged into your account, click on the "Determination Status" tab, and then click on "file a protest."
If you have supporting evidence, like a doctor's note or proof of earnings, include them along with the protest. If you don't have the documents available, you can make the protest without them. If you find supporting documents later on, you can add them.
Protests can take 10 months or longer to be resolved. Check your MiWAM account once a week to make sure you do not miss any updates.
Appealing a Protest
If the UIA denies your protest, you can appeal. The UIA must get your appeal within 30 days from the date it is issued. Each letter will have a due date printed on it for when the appeal is due. If the UIA doesn’t get your appeal within 30 days, you must show good cause why it was late.
You can appeal online through your MiWAM account. Once you have logged into your account, click on the "Determination Status" tab, and then click on "file an appeal."
When you file your appeal, ask for a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). When the hearing is scheduled, the judge’s office will send a Notice of Telephone Hearing to you in the mail. At the hearing you will be able to explain why you believe you are eligible for the benefits you received and any good cause that you relied on.
The ALJ is not part of the UIA, so the judge won't have access to any of the documents you sent to the UIA. If you want the ALJ to see any documents, you will need to send it to the judge before the hearing. Your Notice of Telephone Hearing will have instructions on how to do this. If you lose your appeal in front of an ALJ, read “What If I Lose My Appeal?” below. After the UIA responds and issues a determination, you can protest or appeal a denial of the agency error waiver.
What If I Can’t Afford to Pay the Overpayment Amount?
If you can’t pay the overpayment amount that you owe, you can ask for a Financial Hardship Waiver by clicking on the Claimant Services Tab in your MiWAM account and filling out the application. If you disagree with the UIA and are protesting the overpayment, do not file the waiver until you have a final determination in your case. If your protests were filed on time, the UIA is not allowed to collect money before your case is final.
If the UIA denies your Financial Hardship Waiver, you can appeal to an ALJ. Read “Appealing a Protest” above to learn more. If the UIA denies your protest and appeal and still says you owe the money, you can use this waiver process to argue that even if there is an overpayment, you should not have to pay it back.
In some situations, the UIA may send you actual bills for an overpayment. If this happens, you can use the same Financial Hardship waiver process. To do this, go to your MiWAM account and click on the Claimant Services Tab. Select “Request Restitution Waiver for Financial Hardship” and fill out the application.
For more information on the Financial Hardship Waiver and how to find it on your MiWAM account, visit page 89 of the MiWAM Toolkit for Claimants.
What If I Lose My Appeal?
If you lose your appeal in front of an ALJ, you can appeal to the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Commission (UIAC). If you want to appeal to the UIAC, you may want to speak with a lawyer. Use the Guide to Legal Help to find a legal services office near you.
If you lose your appeal in front of an ALJ and you do not want to appeal your case again, you will need to repay the overpayment amount or ask for a waiver. The UIA is responsible for collecting overpayments of unemployment benefits. If you were overpaid benefits and you are currently employed, contact the UIA Benefit Overpayment Collection unit at 1-866-500-0017 or schedule an appointment online to arrange repayment. Interest accumulates very quickly on unemployment overpayments.
If you become unemployed and get unemployment benefits while you still owe an overpayment, 50 percent (or 100 percent if fraud was involved in the original overpayment) of your weekly unemployment benefit payment will be taken for repayment. There are other penalties for fraud, too.
What If I Don’t Repay an Overpayment?
If you don’t repay an overpayment, the UIA may:
- Take your federal and/or Michigan income tax refund
- Garnish your wages
- Garnish your bank account
Unlike most other types of debt, the UIA can do all of these things without going to court. There are other actions that can be taken if fraud is suspected.
When you’re working, interest accumulates very quickly on unemployment overpayments. You may want to repay the overpayment as quickly as possible.
How Will the Overpayment Affect My Taxes?
If you owe past income taxes or money to the UIA, the Michigan Department of the Treasury can take all or part of your federal and/or state income tax refund to pay the debt. If this happens, you will get a Notice of Adjustment to Income Tax Refund. It has detailed information about the refund. If there is any money left in your refund after that debt is paid, you will get it.
You will not get a notice that your refund is being held to pay a debt to the state until you file your state income tax return.
Do You Need Legal Advice about your PUA Overpayments?
If you have low income, you may qualify for free legal services. Whether you have low income or not, you can use the Guide to Legal Help to find lawyers in your area.