13th District Update

Information is rapidly changing as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Your best source of updated information is at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus. Below are summaries of some recent, key updates in areas that might interest you. Please read them and of course, feel free to contact our office with any questions or concerns you might have. We are here and ready to help.

IN THIS EDITION

Be aware of fraudulent UIA claims
Secretary of State branch offices to reopen June 1
COVID-19 updates
Health insurance enrollment deadlines approaching
Additional food assistance benefits extended
Assistance available to keep residential water service connected
Report price-gouging to the Attorney General’s office
Personal protective equipment available to businesses

Be aware of fraudulent UIA claims

On Thursday, May 27, the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) warned residents of attempts by criminals to file imposter claims in pursuit of benefits. The U.S. Secret Service (USSS) recently issued a national alert regarding an international criminal ring exploiting the COVID-19 crisis to commit largescale fraud against state unemployment programs.

Although Michigan has not been targeted yet, the UIA is proactively taking steps to authenticate unemployment claims, including asking some claimants to submit additional information to verify their identity. It is important to note that no personal data from claimants has been stolen from the UIA.

“Stop payment” notices

If you receive a “Stop Payment” notice on your account, detailed instructions have been emailed and mailed to you on how to submit additional identifying information in order to receive your benefits. There is no reason to take further action until you receive the instructions.

If you are asked to provide additional information

If the UIA needs to re-verify your identity, they will mail you Form UIA 6347 Request for Identity Verification, which will have a mailing address or fax number on it for where you can submit ID verification documents.

For faster processing, you are encouraged to upload digital copies of the requested documents to your Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM), by logging into your account and under “I Want To,” click “Send Unemployment a Message” to upload the required documents.

In addition to completing Form UIA 6347, you will also be asked to provide your:

OR

Tips to prevent unemployment identity theft

When someone files a claim for unemployment, they receive a written Monetary Determination letter. If you receive such a letter but have NOT applied for benefits, or if the name listed on that letter is not yours, contact the UIA immediately online at Michigan.gov/UIA and click on the “Report Identity Theft” icon or call their customer service hotline at (866) 500-0017.

If you believe you are the victim of identity theft, you can also place fraud alerts on your credit reports for free through Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. You only need to contact one credit bureau and they will contact the others for you.

Secretary of State branch offices to reopen June 1 by appointment only

Secretary of State branch offices will reopen June 1 by appointment only for essential transactions not available online in order to continue to balance the need to provide critical services and protect public health.

Beginning the week of June 1, all 131 branch offices in Michigan will be open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for appointment-only services for transactions including:

To schedule an appointment visit Michigan.gov/SOS or call 888-SOS-MICH. Advance appointments can be made up to 180 days ahead of time. Same-day appointments become available 24 hours prior to the appointment time.

COVID-19 updates

What does all the latest information mean for you?

In a nutshell, the extensions of the Safer at Home order (previously referred to as the Stay Home, Stay Safe order) and the state of emergency mean that while you can go to gatherings of 10 people or less, you should still try to only go to necessary gatherings — not party hopping.

Need to go to the grocery store? Send one family member and keep the kids at home, and if you can just pick something up curbside and avoid entering the store altogether, do so. Kids need new shoes? Have only one adult enter the store with the child, with both of you wearing masks, and always maintain a 6-foot distance from other customers.

Please, stay safe, continue to limit your outings, and don’t forget to wear your mask because the coronavirus is still very much a part of our lives across the state.

Testing sites expanded

On Tuesday, May 26, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-104, which expands the types of medical personnel that can order a test, and creates a new category of community testing sites that offer testing to anyone with reason to be tested without an advance order, and without charging an out-of-pocket cost to any Michigander.

Under Executive Order 2020-104, anyone who leaves their home for work, or has symptoms of COVID-19 (even mild symptoms), may receive a test at a community testing location without securing a doctor’s order in advance. Medical personnel will be available to order testing upon arrival. A person who wishes to be tested may call the Michigan coronavirus hotline at 1-888-535-6136 or visit Michigan.gov/CoronavirusTest to find an appropriate testing location.

Michiganders eligible for testing include someone who:

The order also outlines procedures and protocols testing sites are required to follow. 

New online dashboard provides COVID-19 risk and trend data

Developed through a collaboration between the Michigan departments of Health and Human Services and Labor and Economic Opportunity and the University of Michigan, a new, online dashboard was launched on Tuesday, May 26, that visually illustrates COVID-19 risks and trends in Michigan.

Dashboard data is divided into Michigan Economic Recovery Committee (MERC) regions and provides residents with important information about the pandemic status where they live and work.

The COVID-19 data displayed on the dashboard represents publicly available case, death and test data analyzed to determine overall level of risk and key trends. Graphs, numbers and trends provide a snapshot of how much virus is in a community, and whether it is increasing or decreasing.

Risk levels were developed by MDHHS and the U-M School of Public Health using guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, national Guidelines for Opening America and several other leading national organizations.

Stay home order extended until June 12

On Friday, May 22, Governor Whitmer extended Michigan’s Safer at Home order until June 12 to protect Michiganders from the spread of COVID-19. The order also extends the temporary closure of certain places of public accommodation such as theaters, gyms, and casinos. 

State of emergency extended until June 19

The governor also signed Executive Order 2020-99 to extend the state of emergency declaration. Cases in some counties in Western and Mid-Michigan are now doubling approximately every 10 days, so in order to continue to protect Michigan families from both the public health and economic impacts of the virus — and to lower the chance of a second wave — the governor’s emergency declaration has been extended until June 19.

Pay increase for direct care workers

Governor Whitmer announced a temporary $2-per-hour pay raise for direct care workers providing Medicaid-funded in-home behavioral health and long-term care services to Michigan’s most vulnerable residents during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative is part of Governor Whitmer’s ongoing efforts to support front-line health care workers risking their lives every day to protect the health and safety of these residents during the unprecedented public health crisis.

Re-engaging the economy

We’re moving forward with the re-engagement of Michigan’s economy. On Thursday, May 21, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer relaxed her stay-at-home orderand announced that starting immediately, people can begin gathering in groups of 10 or less with social distancing (wearing masks, staying 6 feet apart).

Beginning Friday, May 29, the ban on nonessential medical, dental and veterinary procedures is lifted. Retail businesses and auto dealerships reopened to in-person services by appointment only as of Tuesday, May 26.

All changes are statewide.

Health insurance enrollment deadlines approaching

If you recently lost your health insurance due to layoffs, reduced hours, or a change in income during the COVID-19 pandemic, deadlines are fast approaching to take advantage of low or no-cost health care optionsavailable through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Consumers in these situations must sign up for health insurance within 60 days, which is coming soon for those who were impacted in the early weeks of the COVID-19 response.

You might be able to take advantage of a Special Enrollment Period to either temporarily continue your employer-provided coverage under COBRA or purchase coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, which offers options for coverage that may be less expensive than COBRA.

To determine eligibility, visit the Health Insurance Marketplace at www.healthcare.gov, or contact the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services toll free at 877-999-6442 for assistance.

Additional food assistance benefits extended

On Tuesday, May 26, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced that approximately 350,000 Michigan families will continue to have access to additional food assistance benefits in the month of May in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The additional food assistance was initially approved for just March and April.

In April alone, nearly 1.5 million people in Michigan received federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through the state’s Food Assistance Program.

Households eligible for Food Assistance Program benefits will receive additional benefits in May to bring all current SNAP cases to the maximum monthly allowance for that group size. The 350,000 households that receive increased benefits represent about 50% of the Michigan households that received food assistance in April; the remaining households already receive the maximum benefit.

Eligible clients will see additional food assistance benefits on their Bridge Card this week and by May 31. Eligible families do not need to re-apply to receive the additional benefits.

The image below details the maximum allowable benefit for SNAP customers based on their household size:

The federal government is providing additional funding to states for food assistance under House Resolution 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

How to check your benefits

People who receive food assistance can check their benefits balance on their Michigan Bridge Card at Michigan.gov/MIBridges or calling a consumer service representative toll-free at 888-678-8914. They can also ask questions about the additional benefits by calling or emailing their caseworker.

Customer service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Spanish and Arabic service is available. If you are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing or speech-impaired, call the Michigan Relay Center at 7-1-1.

Assistance available to keep residential water service connected

If you have recently had your residential water service reconnected, you are encouraged to explore assistance programs that are available so that your service can remain connected.

If you are facing financial distress because of COVID-19, you should:

Report price-gouging to the Attorney General’s office

The Attorney General’s office has taken multiple actions to rein in predatory business practices by both brick-and-mortar establishments and online sellers throughout the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Since early March when COVID-19 concerns became present in Michigan, Nessel’s office has received more than 4,200 complaints about businesses and individuals who are price-gouging consumers during this crisis, but some of these complaints do not warrant further investigation and, unfortunately, many do not contain enough information to verify the complaints as legitimate.

Consumers are encouraged to file a complaint online with the Attorney General’s office so that the complaint contains as much information as needed to properly evaluate a response.

Personal protective equipment available to businesses

With efforts to re-engage Michigan’s economy underway through recent executive orders signed by Governor Whitmer, the Pure Michigan Business Connect program through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation has developed a portal specifically designed to support the personal protective equipment (PPE) needs of Michigan businesses as they start the process of re-opening.

The online portal can be accessed at MichiganBusiness.org/PPE and is open to companies of all sizes and industries and is available for all scales of PPE demand.

Thank you for reading this update. Stay home, stay safe, and we know we’ll get through this together.


More news:

Michigan Offering Free Tuition to Essential Workers Unemployment Assistance & Legislative Updates 13th District Update

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