Matt Goncalves of Taunton will have to repay the state $ 200 a month for the next five years because he was overpaid $ 10,000 for an unemployment claim, he said. Boston Globe.
The hard part is that it was not his fault, it was the state’s – and he still has to pay it all back, according to the newspaper.
His claim was one of the 719,000 paid too much by the state between May 2020 and September 2021 by the Department of Unemployment Assistance, or DUA, according to Globe. Now the state is trying to recover nearly $ 2.7 billion from those it sent money to by mistake.
Goncalves told the newspaper that in March 2020, he was fired from a part-time job at Best Buy that the 30-year-old had while working full-time at a school.
Best Buy encouraged him to apply for unemployment benefits, according to Globe. The state approved his demands and he raised money for nearly three months until he found a new position, he told the newspaper.
Nine months later, the DUA sent him a notice that he was not entitled to the payments and had to repay the money, according to Globe.
He applied for a waiver but was denied because his current income exceeds his expenses, according to the newspaper.
However, Goncalves said that he and his girlfriend barely make ends meet for themselves and their children.
“How can I save money? How can I buy a house? How can I take my daughter to the cinema?” Goncalves told Globe. “Come and see how I really live. I’m not trying to mess anyone over.”
While DUA routinely pays too much, the current amounts are much larger than before, according to the newspaper. The reasons: it took the department several months to acknowledge the errors and the amounts were boosted with pandemic payments from Washington, according to Globe.
Hannah Tanabe, a Human Resources Attorney i employment unit from Greater Boston Legal Services, the newspaper reported that many people facing overpayments have already spent the money on necessities like food, rent and transportation.
“We should not push workers who are recovering into more precarious economic situations when the overpayment is the result without their own fault,” she told the newspaper.
State legislators are in the process of finding solutions to the situation.
Representative Joan Meschino, a Hull Democrat, sponsored legislation it would help more of those who did not commit fraud to qualify for a waiver, according to Globe.
Meschino told the newspaper that the department needs to find out what went wrong and fix the problems.
“The stomach instinct is to slam them,” she told me Globe. “But under the circumstances, they did a great job.”
These circumstances include navigating a deluge of claims, quickly adapting to new systems and benefits, and sorting through confusing rules of eligibility that changed over time, according to the newspaper.
Particularly difficult was Pandemic unemployment assistance an emergency program for workers who were not entitled to state unemployment, according to Globe.
Massachusetts ranks fourth in PUA overpayments after Ohio, Maryland and Texas, according to MacAneney of Community Legal Aid. Globe said.
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