'It’s going to ruin me': Some Coloradans on pandemic unemployment told to repay thousands to state

Colorado Department of Labor and Employment
Posted at 9:14 AM, Sep 20, 2021

DENVER — A Denver man owes more than $18,000 to the state of Colorado, but it's money he didn't know he owed until Wednesday of last week. And he is not alone — thousands of Coloradans have received over-payment letters for the pandemic unemployment assistance that they are now being told to pay back.

"Everything I was asked to do, I did. They verified my ID and I made sure I did everything correctly," Anthony said. "I don't know where they expect me to come up with this money."

He asked Denver7 not to use his last name due to privacy concerns.

He is being asked to repay the money because he failed to file his tax information from 2019, a provision that was added to the pandemic unemployment assistance renewals in Congress in January. He says all other documents are correct.

"It's unjustified that I'm being reprimanded over one document that I didn't even know needed to be included," he said. "It's completely unexpected. It's frustrating, it's discouraging."

Denver7 has heard from several others who say they owe thousands of dollars as well. The state sent overpayment notifications to more than 23,000 Coloradans who enrolled in unemployment.

"We are required by law to get that money back to go to the appropriate federal programs," said Phil Spesshardt of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. "Failure to respond to those requests results in overpayment and a requirement to repay the funds."

Officials say there are ways to resolve the overpayment notices including appeals process, but Anthony says it has been difficult to get through to the CDLE because so many people are trying to call in. He says he has been directed to start making payments by Oct. 1 or face collections.