More than 1.7 million state and federal unemployment claims have been filed in Michigan since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Applying for unemployment is “like beating my head into the wall. It causes headaches, depression, sadness.” — Roger Scott
Many people waited months before being paid. In mid-May, WDET’s Laura Herberg spoke with three Metro Detroiters whose unemployment insurance had been delayed.
Listen: Three Metro Detroiters on waiting for their unemployment insurance to process.
Bill Holman, Clinton Township
“The first few weeks I just figured, oh well, things are being slow, they’re trying to get things taken care of,” says Bill Holman. “And four weeks later, I’m like, ‘Alrighty, so I think they may have forgotten that I’m here?’”
“I have some things that are worth a bit of value that I’m able to sell, but it’s definitely hard parting with them.” — Bill Holman
Back in March, Holman, 26, was working at Wendy’s, but he quit his job to stay home and take care of his mom since she has a few different medical conditions. By mid-May, Holman still hadn’t seen any unemployment money or his federal stimulus check. He’d been living off of his $1,100 tax return, which, by that point had dwindled down to about $100.
To make money, Holman had been selling off some of his guns.
“I’m a firearms collector,” he says. “So, I’m kind of blessed that I have some things that are worth a bit of value that I’m able to sell, but it’s definitely hard parting with them.”
Holman received his unemployment insurance after WDET conducted this interview.
Roger Scott, Detroit
Roger Scott was supposed to be hired as a Census worker on April 1st, but that got pushed back because of the pandemic. When Scott found out he was eligible for unemployment benefits, he applied. Two months later he still hadn’t seen a penny.
“I sent 15 to 20 messages. I’ve called all day and just nothing.” — Roger Scott
“The hardest part is just getting any information, any feedback,” Scott says. “I sent 15 to 20 messages. I’ve called all day and just nothing.”
More than a month after filing for unemployment, Scott said he was still spending almost every day trying to get ahold of someone who could help him resolve an issue with his account. His inability to make any progress or get answers was breaking him down.
“It’s the worst feeling I can imagine. It’s like beating my head into the wall. It causes headaches, it just causes some type of depression, sadness. It’s just the worst,” Scott says.
Scott received his unemployment insurance after WDET conducted this interview.
Katina Singleton, Detroit
Katina Singleton was working as a substitute teacher at a Detroit charter school until March 15th when schools were closed. She tried filing for unemployment but the website kept crashing and she couldn’t get through on the phone.
“This is a horrible time, but it will pass.” — Katina Singleton
“Lean on your patience, and if you never had any, you’ll get some,” Singleton says. “I’m not upset with the unemployment agency or any of the workers or anything. They’re doing their best. I’m sure.”
Singleton lives with her two daughters, a kindergartener and a fifth grader. Since she lost her job she’s tried to avoid using gas and isn’t buying anything her family doesn’t really need.
After a month of waiting to receive her unemployment money, Singleton finally received a check, but she wasn’t paid for the first two weeks that she was out of work. As Singleton tries to get in touch with the state to figure out what happened, she stays positive.
“Be helpful. Be humble. Be kind to people,” she says. “This is a horrible time, but it will pass.”
As of publish time, Singleton still has not received a payment for the first two weeks that she was unemployed but she says she’s “not going to stress about it.”