Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why will the unemployment extension payments take so long to receive in Michigan?

unemployment insurance benefits

The recent extension of unemployment benefit payments has come as a huge relief to as many as 80,000 Michigan residents whose benefits have already expired. But many are also asking: Why the big delay in receiving extension payments?

The state Unemployment Insurance Agency doesn't expect to start sending out checks until mid-December, although the payments will be made retroactive to Nov. 8.

"The agency anticipates making payments as quickly as possible and will post information on its website ( once it has a firm starting date for issuing the benefit payments," agency spokesman Norm Isotalo said via e-mail.

"There are, however, changes that must be made to the agency’s computer payment system. Before these changes can go into production, they must be thoroughly tested to ensure accurate benefit payments. In fact, staff is now in the process of developing and testing these changes."

Other factors adding to the delay, Isotalo said, include receiving final instructions for implementing the extension from the federal government and preparing protocols for state unemployment staff. Workers must also develop accounts, coding and other measures to ensure accurate record-keeping, he said.

Lastly, unemployment payments can't be made any earlier than the third week following the Emergency Unemployment Compensation effective date of Nov. 8. Unemployed workers must certify through the state's MARVIN system that they were unemployed and meet eligibility requirements forthe prior two weeks.

The estimated 70,000-80,000 residents who have exhausted their benefits should receive written instructions by Nov. 24 on how to certify for the new extensions, Isotalo said.