18. Restitution, Waiver, Fraud

Bryan-Brooks v Securitas Security Services – 18.24

Bryan-Brooks v Securitas Security Services
Digest No. 18.24

Section 421.62(a)

Cite as: Bryan-Brooks v Securitas Security Services USA, Inc, unpublished opinion of the Wayne County Circuit Court, issued September 11, 2017 (Docket No. 17-005155).

Court: Circuit Court
Appeal pending: Yes
Claimant: Christina Bryan-Brooks
Employer: Securitas Security Services USA, Inc.
Date of decision: September 11, 2017

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HOLDING: Claimants that meet the statutory requirements to receive a hardship waiver aren’t disqualified from receiving the waiver if they fail to completely fill-out the waiver application on the first try.

FACTS: Claimant received unemployment benefits that were not actually due to her, through no fault of her own. The Agency requested restitution in the amount of the overpayment, but Claimant was unable to pay. She filed a hardship waiver application with the Agency to waive the restitution.

Section 62(a) requires the Agency to approve hardship waivers for claimants who prove they are below the federal poverty line. The Agency denied her hardship waiver because the application was incomplete. Specifically, the Agency said she failed to list her daughters’ social security numbers and attached pay stubs instead of listing her income on the application form.

Claimant appealed the Agency’s denial of her hardship waiver application. She presented evidence at a hearing in front of an ALJ that proved she was below the federal poverty line for a family of four. The ALJ nevertheless affirmed the denial because her failure to provide the requested information “deprived the UIA of the opportunity to analyze whether or not [Claimant’s] income fell below the poverty line guidelines.” The MCAC affirmed.

DECISION: Under § 62(a) the Agency is required to waive restitution if the claimant is below the poverty line. If a claimant proves he or she qualifies for the waiver, the claimant cannot be denied the waiver because they fail to correctly complete the application.

RATIONALE: The MESA is a remedial act designed to safeguard the general welfare through the dispensation of benefits to those that become involuntarily unemployed. If the court followed the reasoning of the Agency, ALJ, and MCAC, it would have to deny a hardship waiver to a claimant that proves he or she is eligible, simply because the claimant’s application is incomplete. “Such a finding does not give the [Agency] any incentive to offer guidance to offer guidance or follow up with waiver applicants with respect to adequate completion of paperwork, and is contrary to the act’s purpose.”

The Agency tried to introduce evidence for the first time on appeal that Claimant was, in fact, above the federal poverty line. The court rejected that argument because the Agency failed to raise the issue at the ALJ hearing. The court further noted that the hardship waiver application form is poorly written and did not inform claimants that they could amend their hardship waiver instead of appealing.

Digest author: Sarah Harper, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest updated: December 5, 2017