More Illinois residents report being asked by IDES to pay back unemployment benefits

CHICAGO (WLS) -- All this week, the ABC 7 I-Team is taking a closer look into Illinois' unemployment system as people continue to report problems nearly every day since the pandemic started.

It's a story the I-Team uncovered last week and ABC7 has since heard from more people who checked their accounts and learned their unemployment benefits have been reduced and they're going to have to pay the state back.

The people ABC7 has spoken to are a part of the state's Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA program, which allows gig workers and contracted workers to receive benefits from the federal CARES Act.

RELATED: Illinois unemployment PUA participants say state demanding they pay back thousands, slashing weekly benefits

Donee Damore said she is absolutely devastated and believes if the state made this mistake, she and others in Illinois who are really struggling shouldn't have to pay for it.

"It was very disturbing to me because now I am out almost $1,000 a month and I don't know how I'm going to survive," Damore said. "There's nothing else I can do but try to get a hold of IDES and get the message out there that you can't, this is not right. American people are hurting. Illinois people are hurting. Chicago people are hurting."

The state said it's prohibited from discussing individual cases, but released a statement saying in part, "Several unemployed workers are being asked to pay back some of their unemployment benefits after the Illinois Department of Employment Security said they received too much money."

As for how something like this could happen, IDES says it is not aware of an issue within the PUA system miscalculating weekly benefit amounts.

Still a lot of questions here as far as how many people were affected and how much time people will have to pay this money back.

IDES said, "IDES cannot provide details on individual cases. If a claimant was overpaid, they should call 800.814.0513, select their language option, select 1 for Claimants, and then select option 2 for the Collections queue. Claimants will receive a call back in the order in which it was received."
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