DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – More than 46,000 Texans are receiving notices that they have been overpaid on their unemployment benefits.
The Texas Workforce Commission is asking for $32 million to be sent back after it discovered that tens of thousands of Texans were overpaid.
The TWC said some of the overpayments were caused by people incorrectly reporting earnings or providing incorrect information about job separation.
If the TWC determines it was fraud, a 15% penalty will be added to the amount owed.
However, in some cases, it was TWC’s mistake. When that’s the case, by court order, a person is not required to pay it back.
TWC spokesperson Cisco Gamez said, “Occasionally, TWC will make a mistake but based on past audits from the Department of Labor in 2019 the number of mistakes made solely by TWC was less than a half percent.”
In many cases, the money TWC wants back has already been spent.
Holly Malloy, who runs the All the Places Luxury Travel Agency, said she received a notice that she was overpaid $7,000.
“That’s a lot of money especially when you are not bringing any in,” she said. “I’ve already spent that money on bills I owed for my business.”
When the pandemic hit and cruises were canceled, Malloy said her business came to a screeching stop.
“There was just no business to be had and it’s still not really picking up,” she said.
Malloy, like millions of other self-employed independent contractors, filed for unemployment and qualified for benefits.
Malloy said she is unclear why she received a notice of overpayment and has been unable to get through by phone to the TWC to get an explanation.
Under normal conditions, TWC would deduct an overpayment from a person’s next unemployment check. However, the state agency is not allowed to do that during the pandemic.
From the time an overpayment notice is received, a person has 14 days to file an appeal if they believe there’s a mistake.
TWC has further instructions on its website that describe the appeal process in detail.
If claimants receive a Notice of Potential Overpayment letter and wish to discuss the reason for an overpayment, they can contact Benefit Investigations at 800-950-3592.
Otherwise, to contact the Unemployment Benefits department to get assistance with your unemployment claim, including making changes to your claim, correcting an error, or providing new information, call 800-939-6631 or firstname.lastname@example.org