Virginia Employment Commission bills man $4,000 for 'overpaid' unemployment

POSTED: 6:13 PM Apr 09 2013   UPDATED: 12:00 AM Apr 09 2013

If you're drawing unemployment benefits, we have a warning for you -- you could have to pay it back.

The Virginia Employment Commission is billing individuals who were overpaid.

Christopher Brooks was a maintenance man for a local college until being laid off in May 2011. In the midst of looking for a new job, he applied for unemployment benefits. "They approved me and I started receiving checks for close to a year. I couldn't find a job," said Brooks.

Brooks tells News 5 several months later he was able to land a construction job, so he called and asked for the benefits to stop. He says from then on he received no unemployment checks.

However, after being laid off a second time, Brooks again filed for unemployment. "I went up to the Employment Commission with all my paperwork, they ran it through there and said ‘there's a problem Mr. Brooks,'" he said.

Brooks says he was told he owed the commission money, nearly $4,000. "They said I owed them $3,822 and I could start a payment plan right then and there," said Brooks.

Brooks tells us he was confused and didn't know why he owed the money.  "I said, ‘How do I owe you money?’ They said they had overpaid me," he says.

We spoke to the Virginia Employment Commission who said anyone who is overpaid should get a letter in the mail saying so; Brooks says he didn't. "We'll work with people to gauge in a repayment plan," said William Walton, Director of Unemployment Insurance.

The VEC says unemployment recipients can appeal. "They don't have an indefinite time to appeal, but they do have the right to appeal," said Walton.

The state tells us they would be glad to work with Brooks if he'll contact them. "I'd be willing to work with them. I'd try to swing it the best I could, even if it meant getting a second job. I would," said Brooks.

We checked the facts and found out overpayments can happen if you're working while receiving benefits, if your former employer contests the benefits, or if you're not seeking work. Again, Brooks says none of those apply to him.

We've learned if you are collecting benefits, you can check the up-to-date status of your claim on their website. Click here to visit the site.