Demand for repayment of COVID unemployment benefits shocks Jackson resident

Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 6:47 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A Jackson man is being ordered to repay unemployment benefits to the tune of nearly $10,000.

Letters from his employer verified that he was laid off due to the pandemic but now he says MDES is coming after him when they approved his benefit payments.

“Who makes the decision about who’s qualified and who’s not qualified, and why do you have to repay this money if it was their mistake?” asked Reverend Herb Anderson.

He is talking about more than $97-hundred dollars in unemployment benefits he received from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.

The Jackson minister said he was approved for unemployment in 2020 when he was laid off from his part time job at the Deluxe Cab Company. The former broadcaster began receiving $110 a week in benefits.

“All of a sudden I stated getting some extra money. I guess it was part of the government stimulus package,” said Anderson. “So the benefits went up by $300 I guess for that, and of course I never asked for any additional money. They never asked me to qualify for any additional money.”

In August, Anderson received a notice of overpayment from MDES stating that he had to return over $9,700. That was followed by an MDES Warrant for Collection of Overpayment.

“Someone there at the Department of Employment Security is probably benefiting someway from collections,” said Anderson. “I don’t know if they get a bonus or they get a percentage of what they collect. Something suspicious is going on behind the scenes”.

MDES is responsible for administering unemployment insurance for the state to individuals out of work due to no fault of their own. Deputy Executive Director Timothy Rush said, “If Mr. Anderson was unemployed due to no fault of his own, he very well should be entitled to unemployment benefits.”

“He may have been eligible at the time of filing; however, it could be that additional information was received by the agency which would have rendered him ineligible. However, our staff will be glad to speak with Mr. Anderson and go over his particular case,” said Rush.

The 72-year-old is allowing his attorney to resolve the issue.

“This will probably open up a can of worms, and you’ll probably find people coming out of the woods telling you they’re going through the same experience,” added Anderson.

From March 2020 to September 2021, MDES reports that an estimated 382,900 claimants were paid.

Approximately 92,900 claimants were overpaid.

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