La. Workforce Commission apologizes for erroneously issuing more than 7,000 'overpayment' letters
BATON ROUGE – On Thursday morning, the Louisiana Workforce Commission posted a brief response on its website noting its awareness of a severe overpayment error that impacted thousands in the state and vowed to send a "Notice of Adjustment" to most of those affected, confirming that their overpayment balance is $0.
This morning, @LouisianaWorks put out a news release saying they apologize for sending 7,600 overpayment notices, many of which said people owed back thousands of dollars. LWC says it’s a “technical issue” and many people actually don’t owe anything.— Brittany Weiss WBRZ (@MsBWeiss) September 17, 2020
"It was an error on our part, we inaccurately determined their eligibility," said LWC Secretary Ava Dejoie.
Many people received two letters. One for unemployment insurance, the other for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. The letters caused panic for some people, who couldn't get through to the Workforce Commission after they opened the mail. Katherine Stephens says the letters said she had to give back all the unemployment insurance she has received, nearly $14,000.
"I have no idea what's going on and it's really terrifying," said Stephens. "They're essentially asking me for $14,000 and I have like 15 days to either pay it or appeal."
But the threat is over, LWC says everyone who received the letters are people who applied for unemployment on March 29 and 30, when the quarter switched over and resulted in the error.
Dejoie says calls started coming in about the overpayment letters on Monday. It wasn't until Tuesday that the root cause of those letters was identified. LWC could not provide information on how many overpayment letters typically go out each day, but say the alarm bells didn't go off that anything was wrong right away.
"Last week we were very focused on disaster unemployment, we are also working on lost wage assistance, so with all those different things going on the alarm bells around an overpayment we did not catch it beforehand," said Dejoie.
Most people who got the letters should have a notice on their dashboard with their redetermination statement. For most, the overpayment balance is zero.
You can read the full statement below.
"(LWC) is aware of approximately 7,600 Unemployment Insurance overpayment notices that were generated on September 9 - 10, 2020. LWC is working with the vendor to correct this technical issue.
We apologize for any confusion.
The LWC will send a “Notice of Adjustment” to these individuals within the next week that will indicate their overpayment balance is $0. Currently, no action is required by any of those impacted.
The vast majority of individuals will not owe anything related to this issue. We will continue to work to resolve any further outstanding issues.
The LWC has established an email inbox exclusively for these overpayment related issues. If you have additional questions once your receive your Adjustment Notice, please contact the LWC via email, Septovrpymtissue@lwc.la.gov. Again, we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and thank you for your patience."