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Very unusual situation with overpaid benefits

by Richard
(Pennsylvania Unemployment)

The industry I have worked in for the last 30 years collapsed and I found myself at 58 collecting unemployment for the first time in my life in 2009. I searched everywhere for work but who hires a 58 year old these days in the construction field. I finally was able to land a position as a consultant for an agreed upon 6 month time frame where it was agreed I would initially receive a lump sum at the end of the agreement. Because I am dyslexic and have A.D.D. for which I take medication, my son had been helping me file my benefit claims. You cannot imagine looking at a form and seeing the numbers backwards or different then the way everyone else sees them. Makes it difficult to do anything math related. Unlike today, back then you were considered dumb or just not caring about learning because no programs were in place to recognize my Disability. I started this new position for this company beginning of January 2010 and my son continued to file my unemployment claims thinking I am not getting paid for the time of this work until the 6 months was up. The company changed course and started paying me bi-weekly and unknowing and foolish but only thinking of his family, my son continued to file my claim. Then after 6 months and promises of continued work, I was let go. I realized what had happened and went to the state web site to see how issues like this were addressed. It showed if you did not intentionally try to commit any type of fraud, but received money you should have not received, you could set up a payment plan that could stretch out 3 years with deductions from a future claim paying back that balance you should not have received. I called immediately to explain my situation and was told by several people at the unemployment office this sometimes happens and if your intent was not to defraud or cheat the system you could pay it back by having a deduction out of your benefit check now being received. I was told it wasn't like it was a great deal of money so I would be able to pay it back with interest. Besides this going on, I was now taking care of my mother who had suffered a stroke and father(a World War II hero who had gone deaf partially because of what he did in the war as a gunner on B 17's and 24's). I was relieved with what the office told me and I filed a new claim. Then the problems began. I received a letter from the unemployment office as expected I had received benefits while receiving pay from this company. I received a 9 page letter stating the dates I had received unemployment compensation and asking me to either admit or explain why and then it would be determined or ruled what would be done. I filed in the forms explaining my situation and faxed them to the number they listed at the unemployment office, at the same time receiving a letter I had been granted unemployment from this job I just lost. I was still receiving benefits from the additional tiers they had added to help with the bad economy and that would run out the 2nd week of September 2010. I started filing my benefits bi-weekly for this new claim and everything would go into the system correctly, but I was not receiving any money which I would have had direct deposited. I called the unemployment office and was told a hold was placed on my benefits because of this other situation and as they sort it out and determine a ruling on my issue, I should continue to file my claims and wait. I started filing the new claim the last week of September 2010. I called several more times to find out if any ruling had been determined and was told a hold was still on the account and to wait for a ruling but continue filing. As of writing this, I have yet to receive anything in reference to a ruling on my issue. I assumed I was receiving no money because they were holding my checks to pay back the amount, yet determined whether I should have received it or not. I continued filing my claim every week for 5 months never receiving a check all the while thinking they were applying it to the amount, yet determined, I had received. Even though it was explained in these situations they would take a certain amount out of my now receiving benefits to pay back the other amount and still receive something to get by, I received nothing but with the guilt I had over this whole issue felt I better not cause any issues to create what I thought could become a bigger problem. I was so distraught over this situation because of my situation with my parents, thinking the worst of what could happen and who would take care of them, I was just relieved I was able to continue collecting and thinking the money they were holding was being put on the amount yet determined. 5 months go by and we go are

now in February 2011. I receive a tax statement from the unemployment office showing my unemployment benefits for 2010 include the money I have not received from September through December included which I am thinking is being applied to the other amount. How could that be, and with a daughter in college, that amount now showing on this W2 and my wife's salary put us over the threshold with FASA to receive help with her education, even though I never received it. That whole time frame not receiving any money at all, and the financial issues that came about, we had to take on credit card debt at a high interest rate to pay the bills. Now with the pressures of taking care of my parents and not enough money coming in; my wife cannot take any more and leaves me. The following week, my mother passes away. After the first week of March, my son gets our bank statements of deposit from unemployment and we calculate I have paid back the money in question on the money withheld. I call the unemployment office to let them know this is the case and hopefully I can now receive an actual check just happy to settle this issue and move on. They put me on hold to talk to supervisors, get back on the phone and the supervisor wants to know why after all this time of not receiving a check, I did not call and question. I explain I did and was told several times my claim was on hold because of this possible overpayment. I thought the money I had been claiming was being applied to that amount. I get put back on hold and then after a time, they come back. They tell me they are very busy and their has not been a ruling or determination on my issue. I tell them its been 8 months since I sent in the paperwork they requested and I thought according to all of my conversations with various people at their office, my payments were on hold to resolve this case. I am told they are extremely busy and they state their are many cases like mine that have still not been determined. I am then told to get out a pen and write this down. They proceed to list all of the weeks I did not receive any checks after they determine when I should have received them and then tell me I am going to receive them all this week, March 9th. They have no idea why I did not receive any monies all this time and cannot figure it out considering there has not been a ruling as of yet, so I should have been receiving my checks. I should now watch the mail for a ruling which will eventually come. I didn't even bother to mention the tax statement or how does this work receiving this money technically in 2011 and not 2010 so why should I have to claim income I did not receive? I do not even bother to explain all that has gone on with my life or how this mistake of not receiving those checks might have affected it. All I can think about is I wanted to do the right thing. I worked my whole life, paid my taxes, never caused problems or arrested for any reason, donated time to helpful causes and my parents did the same thing. Did I mention my mother for many years was President of her AARP chapter and donated countless hours to helping others? And through no fault of my own concerning the turn in the economy, because of greedy banking and financial companies and faulty government direction, I am now unemployed for the first time in my life. Yet these very companies that put us all in these precarious times, are they held accountable or do they have to pay back? No they receive bail outs (probably some of the money I paid in taxes all those years I worked) and even bonuses, continuing to make great salaries and not held to task. I do understand none of this would have come about if not for my actions and I do bare the blame, but it comes a point where if I am to be punished for my mistakes, should not all be held accountable and punished for theirs?




Richard,

You write of the things I cannot change, but would if I could .. including your dyslexia .. No, I don't know what it's like, but I have a brother and a son that do know.

I also know that the unemployment department failed by not doing what they were supposed to do.

They are required to Issue a determination or "ruling" so you can appeal for a timely hearing if you so need to in order to argue for a finding of PA's non fraud recovery provision vs. the fraud recovery provision at a referee hearing.

As far as I'm concerned .. "we're really busy" is a lousy excuse for not issuing a determination that is required by law!!

All this which probably means they have sent out an inaccurate 1099.

Be careful about spending any weekly benefits that do show up until this is resolved.

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Mar 11, 2011
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by: Richard

As told, the entire amount showed up yesterday. Already decided not to do anything with it until matter is resolved. I do feel for all the issues they put me through, I should get some type of consideration on the amount that has to go back. Thanks



Good luck with that:)

Chris

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