LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – A new state audit criticized the way Michigan’s unemployment insurance agency’ handled the pandemic.

Chad Owney, a Lansing resident knows first-hand just how crazy the unemployment system can be.

He says been trying to get unemployment for months after being laid off from his job, eventually being forced to live in his van.

“After losing my job, being laid off, I lost my family, couldn’t afford rent. They got somewhere to live, I don’t. I’ve been living in my van and just trying to figure this out and I can’t. I want my money, that I am owed you know?” he said

The report claims the agency not only improperly denied people who were eligible for assistance, but they granted overpayment waivers to many Michiganders who didn’t need the money.

It said the UIA made billions of dollars in fraudulent overpayments and failed to ensure program integrity.

The new findings also show the agency did not investigate potentially misleading information provided by some people looking to cash in.

During the pandemic, the agency says it was overwhelmed with claims and had to hire hundreds of workers to try and meet the demand.

Republican leaders criticized the agency, saying the people of Michigan deserve answers as to how, when the people of Michigan were struggling, the unemployment agency failed jobless workers.

The agency director, Julia Dale, also responded to the claims. She says the audit misses the mark in two important areas: Ignoring agency improvements to fix the issues and lacking the context behind what caused these problems.

She says the agency has cracked down on fraud and dramatically improved.