Ohio: Thousands must repay unemployment overpayments

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Around 48,000 Ohioans have been notified they received an overpayment of unemployment benefits during the coronavirus pandemic, the state human services agency said.

That’s about 6% of the nearly 800,000 Ohioans who have been paid regular unemployment benefits since the start of the pandemic in March, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

“To preserve the integrity of the program, federal and state law require states to seek reimbursement of any overpaid amounts resulting from claimant error,” said Bret Crow, a Job and Family services spokesperson.

About 1.7 million Ohioans filed jobless claims during the pandemic. The state has paid out $6.2 billion in state unemployment compensation to almost 800,000 people and distributed more than $5.4 billion in federal payments.

In most cases, the overpayments are the result of individuals not reporting or underreporting money they made during weeks they filed claims for, Crow said.

A smaller number of overpayments was the result of agency mistakes because of the huge number of claims during the pandemic. Overpayments as the result of a state error don’t have to be repaid.

Those who believe they don’t owe a repayment have three weeks to file an appeal. If overpayments aren’t paid back, the money could be taken from future benefits or a collections process could begin.

The Ohio Department of Health reported 656 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, below the seven-day average of 1,051.

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