The VEC gives, the VEC takes away: the agency pays a Suffolk woman $ 4,600 in benefits. Now they want it back
SUFFOLK, Virginia (WAVY) – Imagine collecting much needed unemployment benefits, then finding out you have to pay them back. And by the time you make this discovery, it is too late to appeal.
“Here’s a rock and here’s a hard place, and I’m right in between,” Annie Radigan-Overton said in an interview Friday morning.
She worked at REI, Recreational Equipment Incorporated, at their location at the Pembroke Mall in Virginia Beach for about six months when she was put on leave in April of last year. She was transferred there from the company’s location in Glen Allen. Overall, she had been with REI for about six months.
“I was only out of work for about two months with REI,” she said, and considered herself “certainly lucky” about other people’s unemployment situations.
Well stay tuned for this “lucky” part.
She received benefits for eight weeks which included regular unemployment as well as the federal weekly supplement of $ 600 that was in effect at the time, totaling just over $ 4,600. Based on her letter of determination from the Virginia Employment Commission, she was getting exactly what she was entitled to.
“Every time I received unemployment benefits, it corresponded to this letter. Everything was close to my heart, everything made sense. “
But his Richmond attorney, Scott Crowley, who specializes in employment law, says that despite what Radigan-Overton’s letter of determination said, his case was missing one key piece: a letter of qualification.
Crowley says her qualifying status was unknown as she never received anything indicating whether or not she qualified. Payments started on time, lasted the eight weeks she filed her claims, and stopped after informing VEC that she had returned to her job in June 2020, so for Radigan-Overton everything seemed okay.
Later that summer she changed careers and then moved with her husband to Suffolk. She told the US Post, but didn’t think she needed to talk to VEC about it because by then she hadn’t been unemployed for months.
And then she got an unexpected letter from VEC in April.
“He says you owe us money. It’s actually a bill, and I was completely caught off guard by it, ”Radigan-Overton said.
She says the $ 4,600 was crucial at the time so that she could make ends meet.
“And now I have to pay him back?” This money is spent, ”she said.
According to Crowley, VEC says she hadn’t worked long enough at REI, but was with them six months before she was put on leave.
“According to VEC, they sent two letters, both addressed to my old address,” she said.
The letters explained her right to appeal, but she never filed an appeal in a timely manner “because I never received these letters,” she said.
La Poste never forwarded them.
She’s already paid the lawyer to fight it, so it’s a costly mess regardless of the outcome. His lawyer says the next step would be an appeal directly to the commissioner’s office. This shouldn’t happen for several months due to the backlog at VEC.