Dan-Gwin-new-photo-150x150QUESTION: The Michigan Unemployment Agency is coming after me! They sent me correspondence disputing my application and have demanded the return of my unemployment benefits plus assessed me a penalty. What can I do?


ANSWER:  Eligibility for receipt of unemployment benefits is not automatic. If the Agency determines you are ineligible to receive unemployment benefits for misconduct, for example, the Agency will demand repayment. Where the Agency has determined you intentionally misled or gave false information on your application to receive unemployment benefits, the Agency commonly assesses an additional penalty that can equal four times the amount of the money you have received.


The Michigan Unemployment Agency recognizes several exceptions that operate to waive the alleged overpayments and penalties. The Agency must waive restitution where the improper payments were not your fault, or where the overpayment arose because of an error made by Agency personnel. You can obtain a waiver where you can prove that the error or statement you made in your application for benefits was made in good faith and not because of intent to defraud. Incorrect information provided to the Agency by your employer can also operate as a waiver.


You need professional help to defend yourself against the Agency’s threats. State law allows you to protest the demand for restitution. The due date of your protest must be timely unless you can demonstrate good cause for filing it late. A good personal reason does not constitute good cause. Without a successful defense, the Agency may seize your income tax refund, garnish wages from your future or current employment, or intercept your lottery winnings. Criminal penalties may also be imposed. This serious legal matter poses significant consequences that require the assistance of a professional.


The lawyers at GWINN TAURIAINEN PLLC are experienced attorneys and are happy to answer your questions. Give us a call for a free initial telephone consultation about your legal needs. For consideration of your questions in our web column, please submit your inquiry on the “Contact Us” page of our website at


By: Daniel A. Gwinn, Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
901 Wilshire Drive, Suite 550
Troy, MI 48084
(248) 247-3300
(248) 247-3310 facsimile