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Flint woman left in limbo with unemployment claim after initially receiving payments

(WJRT)
Published: Jun. 23, 2020 at 11:05 PM EDT
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(06/23/20) - A Flint woman says she has been given the runaround for two months from the state's Unemployment Insurance Agency after she was initially receiving payments.

Belinda Lanier says she filed for unemployment on March 29 and received two checks before they unexpectedly stopped. She says she received the last check on April 29.

Two months later the issue is not resolved, but the state is promising to get her and thousands of others answers about their claims by July 4.

"My thing with unemployment is, come on, you can't call me back? You can't tell me nothing," she said. "I've been waiting long enough. I think I should have my money by now."

She has struggled to make ends meet for her family.

"This is ridiculous, you know, that you're constantly waiting, waiting, waiting for someone to call, and I have to constantly borrow money to make sure I have a place to live, water lights for me and my grandson," Lanier said.

She logged into her account and showed our camera that the UIA put a "stop payment indicator" on her claim. She says it's an error that her employer has also tried to help resolve without any luck.

"My account is at a standstill. It just has all different types of errors on it from UIA," she said.

Tuesday we learned new information about COVID-19-related claims like Lanier's. The UIA says more than two million eligible claimants have applied for state and federal benefits since March 15.

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The agency says 94.5-percent of those eligible claimants have received or are approved for benefits, but there are reportedly 90,000 unpaid claims flagged as potentially fraudulent.

"I was told that it's not fraud. It's something else, but they cannot tell me what it is because they don't know what it is. Michigan Works told me that today," Lanier said.

The UIA addresses "stop payment" notices on its website, and mentions that it asks claimants to provide additional information. Lanier says she's provided the information twice.

The agency says another 33,000 unpaid claims are pending for other reasons. Lanier says she can't get a direct answer as to what is going on with her claim.

"You can't get through. I tried to contact chat. The chat on the UIA website does not work. I messaged them 25 times. Never received a phone call back," Lanier said. "If you can help me, please help me. My employer paid this money in for me to survive off of while we're going through the COVID, and I have not received what is entirely mine from unemployment because I'm being given the runaround."

The UIA plans to clear its backlog to make a determination for eligible claimants who applied before May 1 by the Fourth of July. A target date has not yet been set for claims filed after May 1.

We've reached out to the state about Lanier's case and will let you know what we find out.

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