Created: March 10, 2022 06:02 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — If you received unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may now need to prove or prove again, that you were actually entitled to them.
The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) is emailing and mailing some claimants letting them know they have 90 days to provide the proof or they risk having to pay it all back.
Tina Quinlan lost her job when the pandemic hit and the business she worked for never re-opened. She continued to apply for unemployment benefits while she was looking for something new.
More than a year ago, she stopped collecting benefits when she decided to open her own tax preparation business so she thought it was odd when she recently got an email from the New York State Department of Labor.
“I got an email that just said 'Dear Taxpayer' and I thought, this can’t be a real email, why wouldn’t they have addressed it to me you know if this was intended for me,” she told News10NBC.
It turns out the email was very real. NYSDOL is now requiring many people who collected benefits during the second half of the pandemic to provide financial proof that they had been employed at the time.
“We had to provide that information or we wouldn’t have been approved. Maybe they were such a mess that they were approving people without proper proof but I sent it in initially so, I don’t understand, I don’t think that it’s right that the burden should be on us now all these years later,” Quinlan said.
NYSDOL also wants information its own systems should be able to provide.
“It also even said prove that you certified every week, while I wouldn’t have received a deposit if I didn’t certify every week so, it’s insane,” Quinlan said.
In a statement to News10NBC, a spokesman for NYSDOL said, “The federal government is requiring all workers who received Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) after December 27, 2020, to provide documentation proving employment, self-employment, or the planned beginning of employment or self-employment at the time they applied for benefits. Per the federal government, affected PUA recipients have 90 days from when they receive notice via email/U.S. mail to submit supporting documentation. To view a complete list of acceptable documentation visit https://dol.ny.gov/pua-documentation.”
Quinlan says she’s pulling together the documents now.
“I’m hoping that it really is as simple as here’s my W-2, I was a working person, leave me alone,” she said.
If you received the email or mailing, don’t ignore it. Failing to provide the information could result in the State/Federal Government requiring you to repay the total amount in benefits you received.
Here’s more information on the Federal “Continued Assistance Act” which requires states to issue requests for the documentation:
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