House Bill 5172

House Bill 5172

Topic: Re-opening period for fraud cases
Sponsor: Representative Martin Howrylak (R)
Introduced: October 24, 2017
Status: Review by the House Oversight Committee

ISSUES WITH CURRENT LAW: Currently, the Agency only sends notices to the claimant’s last known address, which may or may not be the claimant’s current address. The Agency cannot reopen a case after 1 year even if new information becomes available from the claimant or employer.

WHAT THE NEW BILL DOES:

  • The new bill establishes a two-part reform:
    • The Agency will send fraud notices to all known addresses on file with the Agency, Treasury, and Secretary of State. Claimants must keep their address current with the Agency for the entirety of their benefit year.
    • Good cause to reopen will now include incidents where determinations/redeterminations are sent to the wrong address, so long as it can be shown that the address was wrong.

HOW THE NEW BILL HELPS CLAIMANTS:

  • This bill helps claimants by requiring the Agency to send notices of determinations/redeterminations to all of a claimant’s known addresses.
  • Now, claimants will have a higher likelihood of knowing that they are being accused by the Agency.
  • Claimants will be able to participate in the administrative hearing process by showing “good cause” for reopening their cases beyond 1 year, because they never received the Agency’s notices in the first place.

House Bill 5168

House Bill 5168

Topic: ID Theft Protections
Sponsor: Representative Diana Farrington (R)
Introduced: October 24, 2017
Status: Review by the House Oversight Committee

ISSUES WITH CURRENT LAW: The current law does not require the Agency to use all information provided by individuals applying for benefits to verify identification before making payments on claims.

WHAT THE NEW BILL DOES:

  • Claimants must provide the Agency with their social security number and one of the following: driver’s license number, state ID number, or verification of identity using I-9 documents.
  • The Agency shall request, but not require, individuals applying for benefits to submit their base period employer’s unemployment agency account number and federal employer ID number.
  • The Agency will verify a claimant’s identity before making an initial payment.

 

HOW THE NEW BILL HELPS CLAIMANTS:

  • This bill helps claimants by preventing others from using their information to collect benefits under their name.

House Bill 5167

House Bill 5167

Topic: Advocacy Program
Sponsor: Representative Wendell Byrd (D)
Introduced: October 24, 2017
Status: Review by the House Oversight Committee

ISSUES WITH CURRENT LAW: The commission provides an advocacy program to provide claimants and employers advocacy assistance. However, this is not extended to people accused of fraud.

WHAT THE NEW BILL DOES:

  • The new bill allows claimants accused of fraud to participate in the advocacy program.
  • If a final determination is made that a claimant or employer committed fraud, then the Agency will recover the cost of the representation from the claimant or employer.

HOW THE NEW BILL HELPS CLAIMANTS:

  • Gives claimants accused of fraud access to legal representation, just like any other claimant or employer.

House Bill 5166

House Bill 5166

Topic: Fraud Penalty
Sponsor: Representative Kevin Hertel (D)
Introduced: October 24, 2017
Status: Review by the House Oversight Committee

ISSUES WITH CURRENT LAW: Michigan’s current penalty rate for unemployment insurance fraud is up to 400% of the overpayment.

WHAT THE NEW BILL DOES:

  • To impose fairer penalties for fraud (excluding identity fraud), the new bill establishes a penalty that is:
    • 100% of the overpayment for the first instance of fraud
    • 150% of the overpayment for subsequent instances of fraud
  • For impostors who commit identity fraud, the penalty will be equal to 400% of the overpayment.

HOW THE NEW BILL HELPS CLAIMANTS:

  • Establishes a fairer and more reasonable penalty for unemployment insurance fraud.
  • Establishes a penalty that is closer to, but still higher than, other states’ fraud penalties.

House Bill 5171

House Bill 5171

Topic: Hardship Waivers
Sponsor: Representative Phil Phelps (D)
Introduced: October 24, 2017
Status: Review by the House Oversight Committee

ISSUE WITH CURRENT LAW: As of 2013, the Agency must grant a claimant’s hardship waiver application if the claimant’s disposable household income falls below the Federal Poverty Line. However, the Agency does not currently comply with the 2013 change.

WHAT THE NEW BILL DOES:

  • The Agency must grant a claimant’s hardship waiver application if the claimant’s average net household income and household cash assets falls below 150% of the Federal Poverty Line.
  • The claimant may only apply for a waiver once every 6 months.
  • The Agency must present a written report to the legislature detailing the previous year’s statistics on waivers.

HOW THE NEW BILL HELPS CLAIMANTS:

  • Increasing the threshold to 150% will enable more claimants to qualify for hardship waivers.
  • The Agency’s written annual report will enable claimants’ advocates to ensure the Agency is complying with the text of the bill and is properly issuing hardship waivers.

House Bill 5170

House Bill 5170

Topic: Employer Determination Process
Sponsor: Representative Joseph Bellino (R)
Introduced: October 24, 2017
Status: Review by the House Oversight Committee

ISSUE WITH CURRENT LAW: The Agency’s process for employer determinations was confusing, time consuming, and ineffective.

WHAT THE NEW BILL DOES:

  • An employer receives a determination if the employer fails to provide timely and adequate information in response to the Agency’s request(s) for information.
  • To receive a determination, an employer must (a) fail to respond 5 or more time to requests for information OR (b) fail to respond to equal to or greater than 2% of all the requests received during the prior calendar year.
  • Benefits paid to a claimant as a result of the employer’s or employer’s agents failure to provide timely or adequate information must be charged to the employer’s account and the employer’s account must not be credited.

HOW THE NEW BILL HELPS CLAIMANTS:

  • The bill seeks to achieve a balance in the system by holding employers accountable for their interactions with the Agency.
  • The bill enables claimants to collect unemployment benefits even if their employer fails to respond to Agency’s requests for information.

House Bill 5169

House Bill 5169

Topic: Interest on Overpayments
Sponsor: Representative Beau LaFave (R)
Introduced: October 24, 2017
Status: Review by the House Oversight Committee

ISSUE WITH CURRENT LAW: Michigan charges 1% monthly interest on all overpayments.

WHAT THE NEW BILL DOES:

  • No interest will be assessed if the overpayment was due to an Agency error.
  • Interest begins accruing one year after a final adjudication if there was a non-fraud overpayment not caused by Agency error.
  • Interest applies immediately if fraud is found.

HOW THE NEW BILL HELPS CLAIMANTS:

  • Claimants who were overpaid due to Agency error no longer have to pay interest on the restitution owed to the Agency. This saves claimant’s enormous money and rightfully places the burden on the Agency for its own errors.
  • The new bill provides a one year window to claimants before interest accrues in non-fraud overpayment situations. This enables claimants to pay off the restitution owed before interest begins to accrue.