Lawmakers could waive claimants’ obligation to give back ‘overpayments’ from unemployment systems

Lawmakers could waive claimants’ obligation to repay ‘overpayments’ from unemployment systems

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Several Ohioans were asked to return the money they got from unemployment.

We first told you when people began receiving notices that their approval for benefits was appealed and reversed.

Thursday, 19 News investigators looked into what it would take for claimants to be allowed to keep the payments.

“They decided that I was not actually qualified for unemployment, and they said that I needed to repay all of the money they had given me,” Marnie behan said.

She says that doesn’t make sense, because she met the minimum income thresholds working as a server at Buffalo Wild Wings.

“I think this is just a glitch in the system or a misunderstanding or something,” she said.

Ohio’s JFS department told us most cases like Behan’s have to do with an error in wage reporting or lagging information that comes in during an appeals process.

Regardless of the situation JFS Director Kim Hall says the solution is out of her hands.

“I would love to not have anyone pay back an over-payment that was made, but unfortunately I can’t. We are not able to lift that requirement at the federal level,” Hall said.

19 Investigates reached out to Ohio’s US lawmakers to see if any of them have plans to introduce legislation that would allow people to keep their payments.

In a statement, Senator Sherrod Brown’s office said he is working to address the issue.

He says he “strongly believes that recoupment should not be pursued if the state made the error in the first place and the over-payment was not the fault of the workers.”

He also wants JFS to notify claimants that they can appeal the overpayment recoupment, which Behan is doing.

“This was on their end," she said. “So, I shouldn’t have to pay all the money back because of a mistake that they made.”

In the paperwork claimants received about repayments, they are told that if they do not send the money back, their case will go to the attorney general.

We reached out to Dave Yost’s office about what would happen if someone still didn’t give up the funds. We will let you know when we get an answer.

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