Jobless Benefits Saved Them, Until States Wanted the Money Back

A pandemic relief program allows no forgiveness of overpayments, even when recipients are not at fault and the funds are already spent.

News Story (NATIONAL)

Gillian Friedman
New York Times (NYT)
December 11, 2020

Tags: COVID-19, Unemployment, Unemployment Insurance

Organizations mentioned/involved: Unemployment Law Project (WA)


Mistakes in the rollout were inevitable, said Behnaz Mansouri, a senior attorney for the Unemployment Law Project, a nonprofit legal aid organization in Seattle.

“For a new system to have such a punitive response when the system itself fails seems overly harsh and draconian,” Ms. Mansouri said.

Gina Jones, 29, was furloughed in March from her part-time job at a breakfast bar at a Quality Inn in Spokane, Wash., and began receiving $750 a week from the pandemic program, which allowed her to pay for rent, food and necessities for her two daughters, ages 1 and 5. She was called back to work in July, and now works about 28 hours a week at $13.50 an hour.