LANSING, Mich. — The state of Michigan said Friday it has reversed at least 44,000 unemployment benefit fraud cases covering a two-year period and is refunding nearly $21 million after a computer system wrongly accused people of collecting excessive benefits.
The figures were released as part of a review that began in January, after an astounding 93 percent error rate was discovered in an examination of thousands of cases.
The Unemployment Insurance Agency said it has now reviewed more than 62,000 cases in which claimants were assessed a fraud penalty and did not appeal — at least 9,000 more than previously disclosed.
Of the 40,000 resolved solely by the troubled computer program, 85 percent were reversed.
Of the 22,000 cases that were flagged by the Michigan Integrated Data Automated System (MiDAS) and referred to a human investigator, 44 percent were overturned — which mirrors the overall reversal rate in the normal appeals process, said state spokesman Dave Murray.
Another 5,000 cases were resolved through appeals.
Jennifer Lord, an attorney who has been leading a class-action lawsuit against the state, said Friday that the review is a “limited, positive step forward. But we are concerned that the dollars are not adding up. The state’s own audited financial statements demonstrate that tens of millions more were seized from the citizens of Michigan. It is critical that the state and the agency be fully transparent so that confidence in the agency is restored.”
Lord also called for the administration to specify how and why “this debacle happened.”