Louisiana woman receives letter to pay back overpayment on unemployment benefits


RAYVILLE, LA (KTVE/KARD)– The Louisiana Workforce Commission has told one local she has to pay back the money she got for unemployment because she’s been overpaid. She tells NBC that she got a letter in the mail earlier this month saying she had to pay back 11 thousand dollars. later this month, she then received two more notifications to pay back more money totaling to nearly 20 thousand dollars.

“How did you allow people to get paid for a certain amount of time when they were supposedly disqualified from the very beginning,” said Chelsea Honzell.

Chelsea Honzell, a Rayville resident, says she filed for unemployment back in march due to COVID-19 and having to leave her job because of underlying health conditions. Now, 24 weeks later, she received a letter in the mail from the Louisiana Workforce Commission, saying she’s been overpaid and has to pay back her unemployment.

“Basically saying I was disqualified the entire time and now I owe almost 18 thousand dollars back to the state,” says Honzell.

The Secretary of the Louisiana Workforce Commission can’t speak on any specific case, but she does say overpayment notices are given out for a variety of reasons. As for Chelsea, she says her letters say she’s disqualified because she left work for personal reasons and because she didn’t have a car.

“I didn’t have a vehicle that was working and I couldn’t use public transportation to go look for employment or to get a job. I live out in the country and my car was broken down for about a month but that doesn’t mean I still can’t work from home,” said Honzell.

The state says overpayments are established while they work out the circumstances of that situation.

“If someone was to say they were unable to work, we need to know the circumstances because a basic premise of state unemployment is you have to be available to work,” Ava Dejaoie, secretary Workforce commission.

Chelsea had 15 days after receiving the first letter to appeal, which she did. She says she shouldn’t have been receiving unemployment checks if she was actually never eligible in the first place. And now having to pay back the money, while unemployed, has put her in a very hard position.
Though, the state says nothing is final.

“We have rules and regulations that we are bond and laws that we must operate by but it is not our intention to harm any individuals at all,” said Dejaoie.

Chelsea says this has happened to other people she knows as well. The Louisiana Workforce Commission says since march they have paid nearly 6.7 billion dollars for unemployment. Last year, they only paid around 153 million dollars.


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