The Texas Workforce Commission is asking more than 46,000 out-of-work Texans to return $32 million in unemployment benefits.
Some people received more money than they were eligible for, and other payments were fraudulent, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Now many people who spent the money in good faith are trying to figure out how to pay it back, according to the newspaper.
Three million Texans lost their jobs in less than three months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Chronicle reported. About 650,000 people are waiting for their unemployment benefits applications to be processed.
The workforce commission is “still gathering data on the percentage of overpayments due to fraud,” according to The Texas Tribune, which requested information from the agency.
Those who received fraudulent payments must return all of the money, plus a 15% penalty, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.
“Errors caused exclusively by TWC are exceptionally rare,” Cisco Gamez, a spokesperson for agency, told the Tribune.
While claimants who received notices to return the money can appeal, the commission can take legal action if the money is not recovered, the Tribune reported.
According to the commission’s website, “There is no statute of limitations on debts owed to the state. TWC cannot forgive or dismiss the overpayment and there is no exception for hardship.”
“Overpayments stay on your record until repaid. You must repay those benefits even if the overpayment was not your fault. We cannot pay you benefits if you have an overpayment,” the website continues.
According to the Chronicle, 96,000 Texans applied for unemployment benefits during the last week of June, up from 89,000the week before.