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DETR claimants being asked to pay back money they never received

Posted at 6:13 PM, Nov 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-17 22:14:12-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Frustration is mounting among Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation claimants.

"How do you ask people to pay back what you never paid them," said Barbara Brighton.

Brighton, a singer, and comedian got two messages from DETR on Tuesday claiming she'd been overpaid - more than $10,000 from the federal CARES Act and more than $3600 from PUA. But Brighton said she was disqualified from the PUA program in August, which she appealed. Since then, she said she hasn't received a payment from PUA or a response to her appeal.

"Why do you file an appeal if they don't answer you? They say they're going to answer you in 8-10 days, no," she said. "Forget it."

As for the money she received before August, she said she's spent it trying to make ends meet.

"It was in the bank account," she said. "They deposit it in the bank account. You have to pay your rent and you have to live."

But it's not just PUA claimants being asked to pay the money back. Ever since David Hernandez was laid off from his job as a cook at Sunset Station in May, he's been filing for unemployment. Recently, he said he learned he would be receiving $900 of additional benefits from the Lost Wages Program.

"They gave me half a payment and then the second payment was supposed to be today and all of a sudden I owe them money, like how does that fly," he said.

Hernandez said his unemployment payments of $433 a week support him and his wife. His wife Valerie said the money they were supposed to get Tuesday automatically went to paying off the overpayment request instead.

"They can just toy with your money," she said. "They'll give you some here and then they'll be like we overpaid you, we need that back. It's a scary thing that they can do that."

13 Action News reached out to both DETR and the governor's office about issues of overpayment but did not hear back immediately.