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DOL overpaid pandemic unemployment benefits, request repayment

The state Department of Labor is being called on to waive unemployment compensation overpayments that are being billed to workers.  Danbury Senator Julie Kushner says there were inadvertent errors, but they've learned a lot since the start of the pandemic.  She gave another example of PPP loans.  She called it a well intentioned program, but there was fraud and mistakes there too.  Kushner says there are many new ways people qualified for unemployment, and just many more who were eligible for compensation and the resources weren't set up to handle the volume.

Kushner says people receiving clawback letters can request a waiver, in addition to any other formal appeal process that is available. She noted that for instances of fraudulent claims of unemployment or identity theft, they have no mercy for those folks and backs Department of Labor’s efforts to recover those payments.

A DOL spokeswoman said overpayments not related to fraud stemmed from delays by employers who may have disputed a claim after benefits had already been paid. DOL says there are some cases where applicants made filing errors or the agency made a mistake.

Redding Representative Anne Hughes says some people had complex filings, for example people with two jobs, and many approvals took months before they saw a penny.  DOL is auditing the filings to determine if the lump sum was based on an accurate formula, and then if continued weekly payments were accurate or not.

House Speaker Matt says they may take up legislation requiring the state to cover the cost, which is estimated to be $6 million to $10 million.  Connecticut had 30,000 overpayment cases.  In the 18 months of this pandemic, DOL paid out $9.7 billion in state and federal unemployment benefits, compared to about $900 million in a typical 18-month period.

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Todd Schnitt

Local Headlines