LANSING, Mich. — Imagine losing your job, being on unemployment and getting a few hundred dollars a week to get by. Then all of a sudden you get a notice saying all the money you were paid needs to be returned. That’s a notice hundreds of thousands of people have been getting, Alicia Nieves shows us why.
Bills are mounting for many Americans and, another one being added to the pile for some on unemployment, is a bill to payback the money they were given. "This is a massive financial hardship.”
Michele Evermore is with the national employment law project and explains the notice to payback unemployment is most often due to an error somewhere in the application process or when they filed for continued benefits each week.
“Either the agency made a mistake or someone clicked the wrong button on a form somewhere and now are being informed that they have been overpaid for months and now have to payback tens of thousands of dollars.”
In some cases, if an error was found on one week, the agency disqualified people for the entire time they were on unemployment. “That is a lot of money and it is money that people spent on housing and food and they have no way to get it back.”
It is unclear on a national level, just how many people are getting notices of overpayment, States are just starting to look into this and report. but so far, Texas is seeking refunds from 260,000 people, Ohio says its overpaid at least 160,000 people, and in Virginia the number of people overpaid is at least 35,000.
“We are going to hear a lot more of this happening in a lot more States, and we are going to hear a lot more horror stories if this legislation isn’t passed.
”In its stimulus package the house of representatives has included legislation that would waive the unemployment overpayments as long as they aren’t considered fraudulent activity. But the package is unpopular with the Senate. Nelp believes the forgiveness is critical to those on unemployment and our economy.
“It was estimated during the last recession that every dollar spent on unemployment insurance generated a $1.61 in local economic activity. so imagine that in reverse. imagine that money getting sucked out of communities. as we are still in very rough economic times.”
Without federal waivers, that could be a reality.
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