The state is demanding $ 27,000 from the Omaha woman after she accidentally overpaid unemployment benefits

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – A woman from the Omaha area is searching for answers after receiving notice from the Department of Labor on Thursday that she owed them $ 27,000.

“It’s super frustrating and I’m in a panic,” said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous.

“I will never be able to pay for this. How did it happen? How could such a big mistake happen? “

At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis last year, she applied to the state for pandemic-related unemployment benefit PUA.

She says she applied every week and was certified for payments related to a claim every week.

But on Thursday after logging into her account, she was shocked to receive a notification from the department that they accidentally overpaid her.

The letter reads: For each verification of your unemployment entitlements, you were paid under two entitlements for the performance week ending April 4th, 2020-10 / 3/202020. You may only be eligible for an entitlement shell for one week of performance. BWE 4/4 / 2020-10 / 3/202020 was incorrectly submitted and paid for on the PUA claim shell. This finding may have resulted in an overpayment that you will have to repay.

However, the woman says she only applied for one claim per week.

“There was only one deposit, I didn’t get multiple deposits, you know, there weren’t two claims paid out, it was just one. You haven’t given me a lot of clarity. “

In your overpayment summary on your NEworks account, the overpaid amount is USD 27,163.00, which was paid out within 38 weeks. The outstanding balance is $ 26,114.00.

Throughout the year, she said the Department of Labor had told her not to contact them – likely due to the high volume of calls – and that they would contact her if there were any issues with their payments.

“Nobody reached me,” she says. “It’s been a year and now I get a message that I owe $ 27,000. That’s shocking. “

6 messages went to the Department of Labor saying that while there are overpayments, large amounts like this are rare.

In a statement, the department offers some very promising news for those who have experienced this. It is reading:

Overpayment determinations can be contested. Instructions are printed on the notice. If an appeal is made in time, a hearing is scheduled. The person conducting the hearing makes a decision on the complaint. If the overpayment decision is made in favor of the applicant, the overpayment will be canceled and the applicant is not obliged to reimburse the benefits. If the applicant is still dissatisfied with the decision, they can appeal the decision to the district court.

NDOL will shortly announce an overpayment waiver procedure for pandemic unemployment assistance. Under the applicable federal laws, states are permitted to waive an overpayment if the overpayment was determined through no fault of the applicant and the overpayment would be reclaimed against justice and a good conscience. Applicants will be notified when the waiver application form is available.

The department also says those who have encountered an overpayment notification should appeal immediately and keep their contact information updated on their NEworks website in the event they are contacted.

However, the woman says this is not what the department told her when she first got in touch with them.

“They told me I could appeal within 20 days. You didn’t explain, just said you had an appeal. “

The Department of Labor tells 6 News as well as the woman that they are not sure how long the appeal process will take through them.

So now she’s waiting. Hopefully, after an already emotionally and financially challenging year, she doesn’t have a $ 27,000 hit.

“It’s not my fault, and if this happens to other people, it’s not their fault.”

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