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Some locals still receiving unemployment benefits after returning to work

Published: Jun. 5, 2020 at 5:48 PM CDT
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As businesses reopen, employees are returning to work, but some are finding themselves with extra cash from unemployment benefits they may no longer need.

“A reason people would be getting benefits that are now back at work is because that 6 to 8 week period that their claim wasn’t processed- they’re now getting back pay for what they’re owed,” said director of communications at CareerSource Gulf Coast, Brittany Rock.

Rock said thanks to the CARES Act, applicants who meet certain criteria may also receive an additional $600 check along with unemployment benefits. “So I heard the term ‘free money’, but if you think about the situation when the Connect website was inundated with so many people trying to get in and it was bogged down and applications were not going through- that is 6 to 8 weeks that people were going without any source of income that they rightfully deserved,” said Rock.

She said it’s a requirement to claim your weeks on the Connect website. Doing so helps determine your benefits and employment status. In certain instances employed applicants may still receive benefits to compensate for their decreased hours.

“I wouldn’t apply if I was getting $875 to sit at home, plain and simple,” said the owner of Fishale Taphouse and Grille, Selma Hill.

She said ever since the restaurant reopened, they’ve been struggling to hire new employees, “and then finally when they got a check it was time to go back to work but they still had 4 checks, 5 checks, 6 checks from behind that they should have received and that was federal checks and regular checks.”

Hill said prior to the pandemic she had 19 employees- now she’s down to just 9.

“The state hasn’t asked us who we have offered to come back or take back or bring back. Normally they send letters out but I’m sure they’re inundated with people. I can’t just blame the state, I can’t blame the employment,” said Hill, but she can’t come up with a solution either. She said her only hope is that things will return to normal soon.

We did reach out to the Department of Economic Opportunity. While they were unavailable for comment, we're told there are ways you can return an overpayment. To learn more, view the attached information.

Rock said in case there’s any doubt, don’t spend any money you are unsure about.

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