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Unemployment Insurance Agency says it's made applying for benefits easier

Green highway sign with unemployment image
Green highway sign with unemployment image

Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agencyis launching a new tool to help residents apply for benefits.

The six-step guide walks claimants through the application process from preparing to apply through when they hear back from the state.

Julia Dale is Director of the Unemployment Insurance Agency.

She said the guide puts the information on how to file for benefits in one place.

“We heard that people were even Googling. Right? When it came to applying for benefits, they were Googling, ‘How do I apply for benefits?’ There were just so many connections that came through that made it very difficult to navigate, very difficult to understand,” Dale said.

The tool, developed in partnership with the Detroit-based company, Civilla, replaces what was previously an “Unemployment Insurance 101” page on the agency’s website.

Dale said the old process of applying was often frustrating and confusing.

“With this tool, it takes that mystery away and that’s what we’ve heard from claimants. And I can tell you we’re already hearing positive feedback from other states that I’ve shared this roadmap with, and also from the Department of Labor,” Dale said.

The new tool is a significant part of what Dale describes as a “complete rewrite” of the unemployment system.

The agency has been plagued for years by delays, a defective fraud detection system, and frequently changing leadership.

Now, it’s in the midst of implementing a new computer system, replacing one blamed for several of those problems.

Dale said, besides that update, the UIA is planning a launch of an employer resource center in the coming months.

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Colin Jackson is the Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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