Omaha woman explains how she won overpayment appeal

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – As 6 News continues to investigate botched unemployment claims due to errors in the Department of Labor, a local woman shared how she came out on top, winning her appeal.

The woman has requested to remain anonymous, worried that if her name gets out there, the officials may change their minds and overturn her appeal.

After losing her job to the pandemic in March 2020, she applied for Nebraska’s pandemic-related unemployment. She received benefits for about 10 weeks, then eventually got another job.

Months later, she had two notices sitting in her account.

“Two letters: One saying I was approved, and one saying I was denied benefits. This was after they had already deposited several months of benefits into my account,” she said.

The letters came on the exact same day in August — just three minutes apart from each other.

“There’s no explanation, no notification of who actually went in and made that determination or anything like that,” she said. “It was very just, like, ‘Surprise! Now you have a different determination.’ ”

Earlier in the year, she said, she received a letter for overpayment, months after she already had been paid her benefits. In her case, they wanted more than $11,000 back.

She filed an appeal with the labor department in mid-July. After three months of no responses, she took matters into her own hands.

“I started emailing people nonstop, through the portal, which I never ever got a response from,” she said. “And then personally, I looked up and found personal emails for people in the adjudication department, and then I’d email them saying, ‘What’s going on?’ ”

When the state finally responded, she said they gave her just 10 days to prepare for three back-to-back-to-back appeals: One for federal unemployment, one for state unemployment, and one for the overall determination.

“I needed to know: Is that money mine and can we spend it for things we need to spend it on? Or is it going to be taken away from me? It was nerve-wracking,” she told 6 News.

At the first hearing, held online, the representative from the Department of Labor failed to appear, so they moved onto the next appeal. That’s when she had to represent herself, showing meticulously kept notes, documents from former employers, and the conflicting documents from the labor department itself.

Three days later, her appeal was approved.

“I felt a source of pride, relief, disbelief, and also I just really felt like this situation is not right,” she said. “When you’re in there against a judge and the Department of Labor, they really make you feel like you did something wrong; when, in fact, it wasn’t my fault.”

Now, she wants to help others who are struggling and has advice for those in similar situations.

“Everything that comes to you, read it very carefully several times over to make sure you’re not missing a thing because it really is stacked in their favor,” she said.

She also advises people to keep every document that they send you; take photos and screenshots, and be persistent, she said.

“Stand up for yourself and advocate for yourself,” she said.

Most of all: Don’t give up, she implored. She also suggested reaching out to friends or family for help if you don’t have the resources to do it all on your own.

Copyright 2021 WOWT. All rights reserved.

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