Updated: June 22, 2021 06:06 PM
Created: June 22, 2021 04:38 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Those of you who received unemployment benefits at the height of the pandemic and then were asked to pay some of the money back are being hit with more frustration.
This week, the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) began garnishing the overpayments from those who are still receiving benefits, The problem? Many of those who had money taken from their checks had already sent the state a check to cover the balance of their overpayment.
Nearly 200,000 New Yorkers were overpaid in March and April of 2020 through no fault of their own. The State inadvertently sent either one or two duplicate federal payments. Because there was such a delay in processing unemployment benefits, most people didn’t even realize they had been overpaid because they ended up getting thousands of dollars in back benefits in a lump sum.
Randy Saffer’s girlfriend recently got a letter from the NYS Department of Labor.
“She had money that they had given her for unemployment that she wasn't supposed to receive, it was the first notice of it (we received) although it made it seem like it was the second or third notice of it,” Saffer recalled.
The “Notice of Overdue Debt” is dated June 16.
“It's a pretty stern letter that says if she doesn't pay this amount then they're already sending it to collections essentially, she needs to write a check and put her Social Security number on the check,” Saffer explained.
The couple looked back through their records.
“We couldn't find in the system what payment she wasn't supposed to get, like it doesn't say which one, that was confusing too,” he said.
But when they tried calling all they got was a recording explaining by law the state had to collect the overpayment and even though it was through no fault of their own, they were required to either repay the money, file for a waiver, or appeal it.
Saffer and his girlfriend then logged back into the account they used to file for benefits and low and behold.
“It said $354 was paid to her that shouldn't have been and then $100 was a fee because she never paid this when she got the original notice which she never got, they're charging her an extra $100,” he said.
A spokeswoman for NYSDOL told News10NBC penalties are normally only assessed when a person willfully provides incorrect information. She’s not sure what happened in this case but is looking into it further.
In the meantime, News10NBC has heard from a number of other folks who are still receiving unemployment benefits and had 20% of their benefits garnished this week in order to start paying back the overpayment. NYSDOL says it started offsets this week for claimants who have not requested a waiver or a hearing. Anyone who was offset this week and also sent a check for the full amount due will get a refund within a few days of their check processing. The DOL does not want claimants to cancel the checks as they are currently being processed.
NYSDOL says it is reviewing waiver requests on a case-by-case basis and most are being granted. If you applied for an appeal, those are currently being arranged and you don’t have to repay the overpayment until a final determination is made.
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