Mistake: Thousands told to return unemployment overpayment


BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A programming mistake caused thousands of out-of-work Louisiana residents to get notices saying they’d been overpaid thousands of dollars in unemployment compensation and had to return the money, officials say.

“I apologize,” Louisiana Workforce Commission Ava Dejoie told The Advocate. She said incorrectly programmed computers miscalculated benefits for about 3,000 people and automatically sent the notices.

“A notice canceling that overpayment” was posted Thursday, Dejoie told WAFB-TV.

Many people got two letters — one for state unemployment insurance and one for the federal pandemic unemployment program, WBRZ-TV reported.

Dejoie said affected people will be sent revised notices, and most will be told they do not owe anything. The erroneous notices were sent Sept. 9 and 10 to people who applied for benefits on March 29 and 30, she said.

Katherine Stephens, a legislative worker laid off in April, told the TV station that after her benefits stopped last week, she found a statement on the commission website saying she’d been overpaid. Her calls to the commission were not returned.

She got two letters Monday, one saying she owed the state $4,278 and $9,600 to the federal government.

“They’re essentially asking me for $14,000, and I have 15 days to either pay it or appeal,” she said.

The commission set up an email account for people dealing with the problem, a news release said.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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