21-Year-Old College Student Among 24,000 Told to Pay Back Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment benefits have offered some relief to the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But 24,000 people in Ohio have found themselves having to pay back portions of their benefits.

Marnie Behan, a 21-year-old college student from Westlake, is one of those individuals who received a letter from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services saying she owed $3000 and needed to pay it within 45 days.

“I started crying. A lot of things were going through my head, I was really upset. I was stressed and frustrated,” Behan told WOIO. “Because it took six weeks for me to be approved for it in the first place.”

Behan had been working as a waitress at a Buffalo Wild Wings until she was laid off on March 14th.

After initially receiving four unemployment payments, the notice said she was overpaid and not entitled to the benefits.

According to Cleveland.com, Behan’s notice indicated the reason she was being asked to pay back the benefits was “non-fraud” related.

“The most common non-fraud type of overpayments are tied to appeal reversals,” the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services told WOIO.

“A person applies for unemployment and indicates they were let go due to company policy. But the employer fails to provide details of the company policy. So a determination is made to allow benefits. But upon review, more information is received and the declaring is reversed, and it’s determined an overpayment was made.”

Behan believes the demand for repayment was a mistake and has applied for a repeal so she can plead her case. She is currently waiting to get an appointment for a hearing.

“Knowing that I am qualified, I appealed it... and I’ve been fighting it since,” Behan added.

Behan’s case comes as the $600 weekly enhanced unemployment benefits jobless Americans are currently receiving are set to expire on July 31.

The benefits were part of the CARES Act stimulus package that passed in March and gave qualified taxpayers $1,200 stimulus checks and qualified jobless workers an extra $600 a week in unemployment insurance benefits.

Last month, the Democrat-controlled House passed another $3 trillion stimulus package, known as the HEROES Act, that would extend the additional unemployment payments until January 2021. The package isn’t expected to advance in the Republican-controlled Senate.

This week, the Trump administration came out opposed to extending the $600 weekly enhanced payments past the July 31st deadline.

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