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State seeks money back after overpaying unemployment benefits

Overpayment problem estimated to be in the millions
Posted at 4:37 PM, Aug 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-30 18:17:33-04

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — The state of Florida is looking to collect unemployment money that they said may have been paid out in error.

Many workers are now receiving overpayment notices.

Jason Weaver of Palm Beach Gardens thought he was all done with unemployment last year.

Jason Weaver, received notice from state requesting money be returned
Jason Weaver received a notice saying he needs to pay back more than $800.

That is until last Friday when the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity told them they wanted money.

"I was really upset. That's why I reached out. I'm angry," Weaver said. "There's nothing I can do."

Weaver received an overpayment notice that said he needed to pay back $820 but did not give an explanation why.

"It’s been 14 months since I received an unemployment check. It's over a year now," Weaver said.

He said he received unemployment for only about three months last year after he lost his restaurant job. Weaver then found work.

The overpayment problem in Florida is in the millions and largely due to mistakes in the system during the DEO chaos of 2020.

The state is looking to get money back, according to West Palm Beach labor attorney Arthur Schofield.

Labor attorney Arthur Schofield
Labor attorney Arthur Schofield speaks about what people should do if they receive one of the notices in the mail.

"There may be an overpayment. There may be money due, but I wouldn't take it at face value, and I recommend they file an appeal," Schofield said.

The attorney said the appeal window is only 20 days but filing one can allow people like Weaver to at least question the amount due.

Schofield said even those who lose their appeal can work out a solution.

"My recommendation is to reach back out to unemployment, reach out to the department and work out some plan," Schofield said. "They'll enter into modest payment plans and some instances will also agree to not require payment until they're back on their feet with a new job."

The state's DEO website said they are also working with a collection agency on overpayment cases and that can affect a credit rating.

Experts warn anyone who receives an overpayment notice not to ignore it.