Early this month, many unemployment benefit programs were no longer extended by the federal government. Now, local governments in different states are demanding that the people who received these unemployment benefits start paying back despite the shortage of jobs amid the pandemic.
According to a Business Insider report, one person named Brandel Cook lost his job during the pandemic and had to rely on unemployment benefits. Recently, the state of Missouri demanded that he pay $4,500 for the benefits he received.
Cook told Business Insider, “They want me to repay $900 for the state benefits, that was $67 weekly, and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation of $3,600, the $300 a week.” Another, named Jennifer Reyes, received around $5,000 in unemployment benefits, and she shared, “They claimed I owed 100% of my UI back, which is about $5,000. My job was actually shut down, and I’m high risk.”
This is not the first time a report regarding this matter has been published. Earlier this year, a TikTok user with the handle thatgirlkelsie_98 shared in the video-sharing platform that the state wants her to pay back $4,620 of the $10,000 she received in unemployment benefits. The video has since gone viral, and she asked how anybody can live in a system that makes debt a way of life even during a pandemic.
Accordingly, some states are demanding the beneficiaries to pay back because there was a flaw in their systems, so there was an incorrect amount released or that a person who was not eligible could receive unemployment benefits. A report in July from the Government Accountability Office stated that there was an overpayment of over $12.9 billion for the unemployment benefits.
It is unclear how the beneficiaries will pay back their benefits as the pandemic shut down many industries, especially with the Delta variant still causing a rise in COVID-19 cases.