Thousands in US told to return unemployment overpayment

BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA (AP) — A programming mistake caused over 4,000 out-of-work Louisiana residents to get notices saying they were overpaid thousands of dollars in unemployment compensation and had to return the money, officials said.

“I apologise,” Louisiana Workforce Commission Ava Dejoie told The Advocate. She said incorrectly programmed computers miscalculated benefits and automatically sent the notices to people who applied on two days in March.

The commission sent nearly 8,500 “cancellation adjustment notices” to over 4,300 people, commission media office staffer Frededreia “Dede” Dunham wrote in an email on Friday to The Associated Press. Most people got two overpayment notices, one for state payments and one for federal payments, she said.

“There are around 20 overpayment cases that have not been cancelled yet. There are variations within these cases which require further steps to be taken before canceling,” she wrote.

Dejoie said the erroneous notices were sent on September 9 and 10 to people who applied for benefits on March 29 and 30.

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

She received two letters on Monday, one saying she owed the state USD4,278 and USD9,600 to the federal government.

“They’re essentially asking me for USD14,000, 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.