Americans asked to Return Unemployment Benefits

Over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, states like Missouri and Ohio have paid out tens of millions of dollars in unemployment benefits. And now they want it back.

Thousands of residents have received letters from their state unemployment agencies, saying they were accidentally overpaid and asking for the money back. Among them is Missouri resident Jenna Rieker, who received a letter asking her to give back the payments she received from March through August. According to the letter, the state says the error is on Rieker — although it didn’t elaborate. “I filled out the paperwork and I sent it in,” says Rieker, a single mom. “I don’t know where I erred, but if I did err, why didn’t you contact me or call me?”

Not all states are blaming the claimants. Pennsylvania state officials admit one of their vendors accidentally processed hundreds of duplicate payments, an error that wasn’t discovered until long after people had received the money. But they’re asking for the money back, too. Either way, Missouri Senator Brian Williams says it’s the state’s fault. “If the state overpaid someone, that’s on the state, not on the individual,” he says.

Is it fair to ask these people to give the money back? Or is it their own fault for not reporting the overpayments?

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