Money

As the pandemic continues, many people are still relying on unemployment benefits after losing their jobs. Some mid-Michigan residents are now being asked to pay back their benefits.

“It’s scary,” said Kaitlyn Wisenbaugh.

When TV5 first brought you Wisenbaugh's story last week, she was concerned about the unemployment insurance agency asking her to repay a few hundred dollars. But things have now changed.

"When I login, it says I owe over $17,000,” she said.

The Davison woman was let go from her job in dental billing in March. She said the state is requesting her to pay back benefits, but they have continued to pay her. What is also confusing to her is the amount.

“That’s more money than I’ve ever made on unemployment,” she said.

Byron Smith, of Flint, has a similar story. He said he's being asked to pay back more than $25,000. He was laid off from his production job when COVID-19 shut down the state.

"I haven’t received that amount at all,” Smith said. “26,815. That’s the number.”

Smith has been job hunting and said he wants to work, but can't find a job. He said his unemployment benefits were cut off in November. He cannot figure out why. He also said he was never paid that much on unemployment to begin with.

"It’s mind boggling for me,” Smith said. “I did it the way they wanted me to. I filled out the paperwork the way they asked."

Smith and Wisenbaugh both said they cannot get a hold of anyone from unemployment. TV5 has reached out to the UIA about these issues, but have not heard back. In recent exchanges with the UIA, they say cases of overpayment are likely the result of simply that, an overpayment and not typically a UIA mistake. The agency said anyone going through this and believes it's an error, should protest it.

Wisenbaugh said  it's hard enough living on a limited income, let alone having to pay back thousands of dollars.

“It’s just moving money around to get formula and diapers. So, I’m hoping this gets resolved soon,” she said.

Copyright 2021 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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