State may ask you to pay them back if it overpaid your unemployment benefits

Posted at 5:23 PM, May 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-25 18:33:31-04

TAMPA, Fla. -- As so many people continue to wait on money from the state for unemployment, others say they are just trying to turn off the payments.

Viewers have contacted ABC Action News saying they are worried they’ll be charged with fraud but the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) hasn’t offered much guidance.

“I find it is hard to cancel it as it was to get it,” said Deloris Owens, who helped her daughter Breanne apply back in mid-March.

Breanne was furloughed from her job as a waitress in St. Pete and didn’t get any of her payments until very recently, according to her mother.

“She went back to work on May 6 and she got another payment after that,” Deloris said.

It’s cash she has now put aside fearful the state will want it back.


U.S. Rep. Anna Eskamani, who represents Central Florida, was contacted by a woman who got a letter from the DEO instructing her to write a check, payable to the unemployment compensation trust fund for over-payment.

“For whatever reason, DEO readjusted the 275 to be a lesser number and asked her to return $18, well they removed $18 from her weekly benefit amount for future weeks,” said Rep. Eskamani.

She’s also heard the DEO could withhold future benefits to make up for the difference, which is another reason she’s telling her constituents to not spend that money.

But what if you haven’t gone back to work and still need help?

The state of Florida offers benefits based on the states unemployment rate. Before COVID-19 hit, the unemployment rate dictated the states timeline to be 12 weeks. That means, if you applied for benefits at the beginning of March, you’ve either exhausted your benefits or you’re getting very close to that deadline.

It’s why the state has now created a link to the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation or PEUC benefits which are benefits under the CARES act that extends payments for folks getting state reemployment assistance for another 13 weeks.

That link for PEUC benefits will only be available by invite and the DEO will get in contact for further information and instruction.