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Wisconsin overpaid $44 million in unemployment, wants money back

(The Center Square) – Some of the tens of thousands of people in Wisconsin who waited weeks or months to get their unemployment benefits are now being told they were paid too much.

The Department of Workforce Development on Wednesday said it overpaid $44 million in unemployment benefits, and it wants that money back.

DWD Transition Director Amy Pechacek said not everyone may have to repay the state, but many people will.

“These are looked at on a case-by-case basis,” Pechacek said.

Pechacek didn’t explain how her department miscalculated or made the mistakes that led to the overpayments.

Pechacek tried to defend DWD by saying that the overpayments are just 1% of the $4.2 billion in unemployment benefits paid in Wisconsin between April and October. Pechacek also said that DWD’s past overpayments were between 3% and 5%.

There are still thousands of people waiting on an unemployment check from DWD.

“While that number seems minimal compared with the 862% increase in weekly claims we’ve seen this year when compared to the same period in 2019, the Department is determined to resolve the older claims so that we can provide timelier resolutions for these annual filers,” Pechacek said.

Pechacek on Wednesday said 56,000 people are waiting on nearly 507,000 unemployment claims to be processed.

And those numbers could go up.

“With the colder weather in Wisconsin come seasonal layoffs, which typically means an increase of about 100% in [unemployment] weekly claims filed,” Pechacek said.

Since March, DWD says 560,000 claimants have been paid more than $4.42 billion in state and federal benefits.

Unemployment in Wisconsin was at 5.7% in October, down from a record high of 14% in April.

By Benjamin Yount | The Center Square
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Reposted with permission

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