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The Rebound Detroit: Thousands still seeking unemployment insurance. What experts say will help avoid hold ups

The Rebound Detroit
Posted at 4:16 PM, Jun 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-10 18:28:11-04

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — The Unemployment Insurance Agency has been met with unprecedented demand. So far, 2.2 million claims have been filed, and 1.7 million claims have been paid out but that leaves hundreds of thousands across the state still waiting for that much needed assistance.

We heard from a woman named Mary. She doesn’t have a computer so she wrote a letter about how she’s been waiting 11 weeks for unemployment assistance. She’s got so many bills piling up and sadly she’s one of thousands in metro Detroit who share the same struggle.

"I haven’t received not one payment," said Zoriyana Rivera.

Rivera has been waiting nearly three months for $8,000 in backedunemployment benefits.

"Three hundred calls all day long just trying to get through, and I can never get through," Rivera said.

The Westland mother had been operating a food truck in metro Detroit until the pandemic hit.

"Me and my kids have actually been homeless for the last year," she said.

The plan was to use her savings for a new home in March but without unemployment benefits, she’s been forced sleep on her son's couch and turn those savings into a rainy day fund.

"I had to survive off of that money that I had saved to move," Rivera said.

And Jill, another Michigan resident, says as a single mom things have been stressful.

Jill, who’s been furloughed until July, is hitting the same roadblocks.

"Pending non monetary issue, remuneration," Jill reads from her unemployment screenshot. "It’s unclear what that actually means and it’s unclear whether they need further documentation."

Meantime, over in Dearborn Heights is Hassan Marwani, a restaurant manager and single father that’s been waiting for relief since March.

"As I said, I’m to the last penny and I’m behind in a lot of payments also," Marwani said.

The Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) denied an on-camera interview but say they’re tackling the delays recently increasing their customer service staff to 2,000 up from 650 employees in early May.

HERE’S THE REBOUND RUNDOWN ON HOW EXPERTS SAY YOU CAN AVOID UNEMPLOYMENT HOLD UPS

  • TAKE YOUR TIME WHILE APPLYING- THE MAJORITY OF MISTAKES ARE MADE WHILE SUBMITTING THAT INITIAL CLAIM
  • BE CLEAR THAT YOUR DEPARTURE FROM WORK WAS INVOLUNTARY
  • AND PROVIDE AS MUCH SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION AS POSSIBLE

The UIA says it's working hard to address the issues, and when they stepped in to help our viewers.

"Thank God right now they issued the payments," Marwani said.

It was a breakthrough for Hassan, Jill and Zoriyana too.

"Relieved, I feel relieved because it was a big burden," Rivera said. "I’m gonna start looking for a house to rent for me and my kids."

As for Mary, who doesn’t have a computer and sent us that letter, the unemployment agency is recognizing the urgency and has stepped up to help her as well. She’s expecting payment in the next few days.

We’ve asked this question to several people and experts say there’s no silver bullet. The best advice is to not give up.

Don’t stop calling and reach out to your Congressional Representative to let them know you need answers.