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Issues with state's unemployment website leads to some having to pay back benefits

Posted at 9:53 PM, Oct 06, 2020
and last updated 2021-01-05 19:55:49-05

DENVER -- Like so many in these trying times, a Littleton woman and her husband were barely getting by during the pandemic.

"I’m just starting to get work again, I’m trying to get back on my feet. I’m doing everything I can to get off unemployment and now they’re telling me how you actually owe six grand," said Amber, who asked we do not use her last name.

At the end of September, Amber received a letter from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) saying she was overpaid $6,083 in unemployment benefits.

"I think it’s their error and I don’t think we should be punished for something, they just can’t get their stuff together," Amber told Denver7.

As gig workers, she says she and her husband were told they put the wrong amount when filing.

"They were asking about your income and losses. I think there’s business losses and there was a little bit of confusion, but once we talked together we felt very confident that we filled it out correctly," Amber explained.

Amber is also confused because her husband was asked to pay the state back $3,000 months prior to her receiving the letter.

"They have our tax return that we submitted. Why did it take them all of these months so then look over the tax returns?" Amber questions.

Amber hasn't paid that money back and says she would like to see documentation proving she was wrong first before she does.

Tess Hurlburt also had problems with the state's website, calling it a "guessing game" when she went from underemployment to unemployment in a matter of days after being furloughed from her officer manager job.

"I did not find that the website was particularly user-friendly. There wasn’t a place for me to update once I was put on full unemployment," Hurlburt said.

Hurlburt has already paid the state back.

"Having $300 or $400 taken out of my paycheck because of an administrative issue, it was a big hit for me," Hurlburt said.

Officials from the CDLE did not return Denver7's request for comment by Tuesday night, but did tell Colorado Public Radio, "the problem stems from human error combined with the rush to deploy a brand new unemployment program".

The article went on to report "they (labor department) are bound by federal law to correct mistakes made by applicants, but they also are trying to clarify potentially confusing language on a state website."