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Are Arizonans getting unemployment money they don't deserve?

Arizonans question unemployment money
Posted at 4:32 PM, May 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-26 09:56:28-04

While there are still so many of you not getting the unemployment checks you need, others have a different concern.

They're getting money they think they may not deserve.

Gary Wojton's story sounds familiar. He was laid off from his job, filed for unemployment and says he couldn't get any help from the state.

But he needed different help that most.

Gary got a check for more than $2,000. So did Jeani Williams.

She says her $2,000+ check "can get me out of debt and I could sure stop worrying about paycheck to paycheck."

So did other people who wrote me saying while many others can't get money, they're holding on to thousands in government checks and not sure the money is really theirs.

Jeani says the state's Department of Economic Security (DES) told her she didn't qualify.

Likely, it meant she didn't qualify for full time regular unemployment insurance but did for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) as a part time worker.

But she says no one has ever told her that.

So Jeani says "I'm not going to keep it unless they tell me I can."

Gary had a different issue. He tells me "they said my receiving any amount of money would be contingent on my pension."

Gary has a monthly teacher's pension from another state. He says he tried repeatedly to get clarification from DES but got no help.

And Gary says he's concerned if he cashes a check that doesn't belong to him.

"It says by signing the check you understand the certification is under penalty of perjury. That was enough to scare me right here," he tells me

We asked DES for answers in these cases and one more.

Landry says he applied for unemployment more than two months ago, just after being laid off.

Then he says his boss told him he didn't need unemployment. She said she was going to continue paying his part-time salary.

So Landry says he did not contest his denied unemployment and kept collecting money from his work.

Then he got an unemployment check in the mail.

Landry says he's can't get any guidance from DES telling me, "I've been calling and can't get through."

He says "it's tempting to cash it but I don't want to get caught up in fraud and don't want my boss to get hurt either."

They are all people trying to do the right thing but say they are getting no guidance.

Just this weekend, Gary says he finally got some good news. After spending about an hour and half on hold, DES told him the check is his to cash.

So he can now get his car repairs completed.

Another consumer says he too was told to cash the check. But in his case, he says DES told him if it's later found the check was sent in error, he would have to send all of the money back.

So he hasn't cashed it.

We sent the cases to DES and will continue pushing for action.

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