5. How does the unemployment benefit claims process work?
The process that unemployment benefit claims follow is not complicated. An unemployed Michigan worker files a claim. The UIA then determines if the unemployed worker is able to establish a base period. After this the UIA makes a temporary decision concerning the eligibility or disqualification of a claim. The employee and the employer are both given an opportunity to accept or reject the UIA’s initial reaction until the final decision about the claim is made.
The process seems simple enough, but putting it into practice is challenging. The process of filing and managing unemployment benefit claims can be quite chaotic. The communications sent by the UIA can be difficult to understand or may seem contradictory at times. Even human resource professionals can be perplexed and left to wonder if unemployment benefits were actually awarded to a person or not.
It may be beneficial to discuss the claims and appeals process of unemployment benefits in greater detail. The forms that the UIA sends out should also be discussed. You should be aware of what to expect from this claim and appeal process so that you have a better chance of filing a successful complaint against the claim of a former employee.
The Michigan unemployment compensation claim process is set in motion after a claimant submits a claim for benefits to the UIA. The Michigan UIA makes a preliminary decision regarding the benefits claim by using the information supplied by the claimant. At this stage the employer is not yet involved in the claims process and is therefore not informed of the submission of the claim to the UIA.
5.2. Monetary Determinations
After the initial claim evaluation, the claimant and the employer involved in the claim both receive a "Monetary Determination" (UIA 1575E WR). The Monetary Determination gives the following information about the claim:
• A claimant has submitted a claim for unemployment benefits
• The amount of wages reportedly earned by the employee from the employer
• The name of the base period employer
• The name of the separating employer
• Weekly benefit rate
• The amount of the base period wages received from the employer
• Maximum benefit chargeable to the employer's experience account
• Reason for separation according to the claimant
• Whether the claimant is monetarily eligible for unemployment benefits or not
The Monetary Determination is a preliminary determination on whether or not a base period has been established by the claimant and whether or not the eligibility requirements of the Act have been met.
5.3. Protesting a Monetary Determination
The employer involved has only ten days from the mailing date of the Monetary Determination form to dispute the information enclosed in the Monetary Determination. The employer may then protest that the claimant might not qualify to receive unemployment benefits and provide the UIA with a reason why the employer thinks so. Reasons the employer might give for disqualification are illegal drug or alcohol use, discharge due to misconduct, voluntary leaving, theft and so forth. The UIA will commence with the benefit payments in accordance with the Monetary Determination if no protest is received from the employer inside the ten day protest window.
The UIA will reconsider the matter if a protest from the employer is received after the ten day period but within thirty days from the date the Monetary Determination was sent in the mail. The UIA cannot reduce any benefits already received on the account, but it might stop future payments if it agrees with the employer's protest. If an employee has resigned voluntarily the UIA can remove all benefits if the protest submitted by the employer is received within thirty days and also accepted.
If the UIA gets an employer protest 31 days or longer after the Monetary Determination was sent in the post, the information submitted will not be taken into consideration unless the employer involved can produce a "good cause" to explain the delay. Be aware that it is exceptionally hard for employers to produce a "good cause". The UIA will do its own investigation if it receives a report from an employer which raises questions about the eligibility of the claimant. The UIA can ask the employer and claimant for more information by using a "Fact Finding" form (UIA 1707).
The UIA evaluates the claim again by using the details received from both the employer as well as the claimant before sending out a "Redetermination." The Redetermination explains the UIA's new findings concerning the claim after completing its investigation. If one of the parties involved disagrees with the Redetermination, a hearing is requested before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). Within thirty days of the date of mailing of its Redetermination, the UIA must have, in writing, a request for an ALJ hearing. The employer must establish a "good cause" for any delay should the UIA receive an ALJ hearing request from the employer after the thirty day Redetermination period has ended. Once again, establishing "good cause" can be very difficult for employers.
5.5. Administrative Law Judge hearing
If you request an ALJ hearing you will be sent a "Notice of Hearing" document (UIA 1801) by the Michigan Administrative Hearing System. The notice will notify you of the venue, the time and the type of hearing. The notice will enlighten you about the topics that will be discussed at the hearing. Please read the rules and information printed on the back of the notice. You will be given the chance to present witness testimonies and other relevant information during the hearing which supports your position. The employer as well as the claimant will be given the time to cross-examine each other's witnesses. Administrative law judges can ask witnesses questions as well. After the hearing the administrative law judge releases a written decision.
5.6. Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission
Should you wish to make an appeal against the ALJ Decision, you can approach the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission ("MCAC"). It used to be called the Employment Security Board of Review. You must send a written appeal to the MCAC within 30 days of the mailing date of the ALJ decision. Overdue appeals will only be accepted if the employer establishes "good cause" for the untimely delay, but please note that this is a very challenging for the employer to achieve. A total of three members serving with the MCAC will take a look at the evidence of the case. They will then decide what to do about the ALJ Decision and either affirm, reverse or modify the ALJ Decision.
5.7. Judicial appeals
The decision made by the MCAC may be appealed to the Court of Appeals, the Circuit Court or the Supreme Court Michigan. These courts may investigate the MCAC Decision and issue a decision that affirms, denies or modifies the MCAC Decision.