Throughout the pandemic, unemployment benefits have caused a lot of chaos for workers who have lost their jobs.
Not only were millions of people out of work, many struggled to reach the Department of Labor when they had a problem with their benefits. Add to that several new additional federal benefits, and the unemployed had a lot to learn to make sure they understood the rules and received everything they were entitled to.
Ellen Gladney was among them when she lost her job for two and a half months in the summer of 2020.
Like many of those who filed for unemployment, it was a difficult process, she said.
She was unable to apply for benefits online, but was able to open an account over the phone.
She received a regular payment on June 30 and an additional payment of $ 600 on July 6, then her account went into the dreaded “on hold” mode, which caused problems throughout the pandemic for thousands of unemployed people. .
This meant that Gladney was unable to certify her benefits.
“About two months went by with me trying to get an unemployment response online and over the phone without success,” said Gladney, who worked for a school staffing department.
With the help of her congressman, her account was corrected – she considers herself one of the luckiest – and she received her missing benefits back, but no more extra payments.
By September, she was back to work.
But when she filed her 2020 tax return, she saw something was wrong.
Her 1099-G said she received $ 7,794 in unemployment benefits, less $ 21 in federal taxes. But it was exactly $ 4,500 more than what she actually received that summer, she said.
Gladney admittedly didn’t pay much attention to the extra payments while she was collecting, but now she realized that the tax form said she had received money that she never received. .
This posed two problems. First, she would potentially be liable for tax on money she never received – that was before Congress exempted from tax the first $ 10,200 in unemployment benefits – and second, she worried about where the money was going.
Was she underpaid? Was it a fraud? If the Ministry of Labor sent the money, where did it go?
She wasn’t sure. She said she had filed several fraud reports with the Ministry of Labor, but no one had contacted her about them.
Gladney therefore turned again to her congressman, who obtained a response from the Department of Labor on her behalf.
The agency’s response in July did not clarify anything.
“1099G is correct. the claimant received payments of $ 600 and payments of $ 300 as well, ”he said.
“Unemployment hasn’t given me an iota of documentation regarding these so-called deposits that were never deposited into my checking account,” Gladney said. “I would like to know where they sent the $ 4,500. “
She asked Bamboozled for help.
GET AN RESPONSE, KIND OF
It appears Gladney should have received an additional $ 4,500 in additional benefits, as indicated on her tax form.
She filed for unemployment on June 20 and continued to file until August 29, a total of 10 weeks. She received all her weeks of traditional benefits.
She said she received a payment of $ 600 from Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Supplementary Benefits (PUC), but should have received six more weeks, or $ 3,000, for the dates when she was unemployed while the program was in effect.
She should also have received five of the six weeks of FEMA Lost Wage Assistance, a payment of $ 300 for the weeks ending August 1 through September 5, 2020. This would have been $ 1,500 more based on her performance. dates of unemployment.
According to the tax form Gladney received, the Department of Labor paid him. But where was the money?
We contacted the Ministry of Labor and they said they would look into the case.
A week later, without explanation, Gladney received some of the missing money.
“Wow, the unemployed New Jersey just deposited $ 3,000 into my bank account, although I’m still missing $ 1,500,” she said in an email. “I haven’t received an email from them so it’s a surprise.”
We have asked the Ministry of Labor for an update and an explanation of the payment and the still missing $ 1,500. He did not answer.
Gladney then received a corrected tax form reflecting the actual benefits she received in the 2020 tax year.
“I guess the $ 3,000 will be on the 2021 1099-G. I don’t know about the remaining $ 1,500, ”she said. “I would like them to send me a letter explaining what they are doing. I don’t know what they are doing.
So we contacted the Labor Party again, and they said they didn’t have an immediate response to offer.
The mystery continues.
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Karin Price Mueller can be contacted at KPriceMueller@NJAdvanceMedia.com.