BUFFALO, N.Y. — We are getting answers for people who are having problems with their unemployment benefits.
2 On Your Side has heard from a lot of people so far this week who sent in checks to repay the state for overpayments of $600 or $1,200. They're still waiting for their checks to be cashed, and when we looked into this in May, the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) told us that the state would cash the checks in 45 days. It has been more than 45 days, and several viewers have told us that they are still waiting, so last week, the NYSDOL told us that the checks would be cashed in the coming business days.
But then another problem popped up for several viewers on Monday who sent in their checks, are waiting for them to be cashed, but also had 20-percent of their unemployment benefits taken out to repay the overpayments this week.
Paulette said, "Please look into what they intend to do with people's checks they are holding. Will they be returned or does everyone have to stop payment?"
She is worried she would have to pay a bank fee if she has to cancel her check over a mistake that was not hers.
One person said the state still hasn't cashed their $1,200 repayment check and their benefits were reduced by 20-percent this week. They asked, "What the heck are they doing?"
We looked into this in May, and the New York State Department of Labor told us then that checks would be cashed in 45 days. That 45 days passed, so last week we checked back in and were told the checks would be cashed in the coming business days, but on Monday, people started getting reduced benefits.
We talked with Karen from New York City on the phone Tuesday. She is not happy about this either.
"The waiver process when they sent it over to me was very complicated, so I said let me just pay back the $600 because to be involved with them is a very difficult thing. You don't get answers. They're very busy. They don't pick up the phone," says Karen Cesarski. "What do I do? What do I do? So, I don't know if I'm going to hear back from them. No idea. So, what I think is going to happen is they're just going to keep deducting money until they get it back and then what happens if they cash my check?"
Karen lost her fitness business during the pandemic. This is the first time she's collected unemployment since she started working when she was 18. We asked her what she would want to say to the NYSDOL.
"I would tell them to cash the check and don't take my payments out," Cesarski said. "That's the way that I would want to deal with it. And first of all, when I first got the letter like everyone else, was shocked that they made a mistake and it was of no error, they say in the letter it is no error of yours if you want to contest it because of hardship, then please do so. So you know what, I said I can't. I have enough going on. I'm just going to send the $600. I have the $600, I'm just going to send it back to them."
2 On Your Side's Kelly Dudzik went to the New York State Department of Labor for answers. She was told if the 20-percent was taken out this week, and you already sent in a check for the full amount that you owe, you will get a refund within a few days of your check being processed, which starts this week.
They also told her that you should not cancel your check. The checks are being processed now.
If you have questions about what's happening with your unemployment benefits, let us know and we can try to get an answer for you.