BUFFALO GROVE, Ill. (CBS) — Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, 2.3 million people in Illinois have entered the unemployment line.
CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas talked to some of those who got unemployment money and have now been told to pay it back.READ MORE: FBI Seeking Public's Help Finding Devontay Anderson; Feds Say Third Suspect Charged In Killing Of Jaslyn Adams Fled State To Avoid Prosecution
We have heard from dozens of people in the past couple of weeks who say they are getting notices that they owe money back to the state. Some are on tight budgets, and the money has already been spent.
The owners of a salon in Buffalo Grove got emails from the Illinois Department of Employment Security this past weekend saying payments are due by early January.
“I feel defeated,” said Georgiann Krulewitch, who was overpaid $2,300 by the state.
“At the time, we did not know that we were overpaid,” said Heather Sherry, who was overpaid $4,900.
Jocelyn Bates, who was trying to keep the salon safe and sanitized when we met her, was overpaid $1,600.
When McNicholas asked Bates how she would pay the money back, she laughed and then cried, saying, “I don’t know.”
Krulewitch, Sherry, and Bates own the HJG HairSalon, at 970 S. Buffalo Grove Rd. in Buffalo Grove. It was forced to shut down from late March to early May.
They applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, waited weeks for approval, and finally got it.
All three said they submitted their 1040 tax returns to prove their income, but the state still somehow overpaid them.
“You know, send over tax documents, you think they would have everything lined up properly and follow everything,” Bates said. “But they obviously didn’t.”
An internal report from early June obtained by CBS 2 showed IDES had trouble viewing tax documents uploaded by some applicants, and the contractor who built the system was working on a solution.
The problem applied specifically to people whose weekly benefit amount is $198.It turns out that is the exact amount Krulewitch was supposed to get, while for the other two owners it is still unclear.READ MORE: Family Of 12-Year-Old Erica Gibson Says Girl Who Accidentally Shot Her Dead In Hazel Crest Had Earlier Posed With Long Gun In Social Media Video
“It was a mistake by obviously the IDES, but you know, why should we be punished for it?” Krulewitch said.
The internal report does not say anything about overpayments, and the salon owners say no one has told them what caused the problems.
The IDES said people who cannot pay their overpayments back all at once can call them to work out a monthly plan.
“We don’t know if we should appeal it, if we should pay it. ”
The state says if you ignore your bill, they can take money from your tax returns or even your lottery winnings.
We asked IDES if the troubles they were having trouble viewing tax documents contributed to any of the overpayments. They would not answer and said they do not comment on specific cases, but they did say the issue is resolved.
No matter who is at fault for the overpayment, IDES is required by federal law under the CARES Act to recoup the funds.
People who are worried they have been overpaid may want to check their accounts on IDES’ website. After receiving the emails from IDES, Sherry and Bates discovered documents pertaining to their overpayments in the IDES portal dated Aug. 24, which was after the salon was back open and the owners had already been paid.
The salon owners said they didn’t know about those documents – because no one from IDES notified them directly until last weekend.
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CBS 2 is committing to Working For Chicago, connecting you every day with the information you or a loved one might need about the jobs market, and helping you remove roadblocks to getting back to work.MORE NEWS: 'I Was Completely Unaware': Brookfield Homeowner On Apartment Complex Looming Large Over Her House, Obstructing Views
We’ll keep uncovering information every day to help this community get back to work, until the job crisis passes. CBS 2 has several helpful items right here on our website, including a look at specific companies that are hiring, and information from the state about the best way to get through to file for unemployment benefits in the meantime.