Attorney Rory MacAneney of Community Legal Aid and attorney Hannah Tanabe of Greater Boston Legal Services were quoted in a Jan. 17 article in The Boston Globe about their efforts to protect individuals who received overpayments in unemployment insurance during the pandemic due to errors by the Department of Unemployment Assistance.
At least $2.7 billion in benefits went to claimants who, the DUA later determined, received too much money or weren’t eligible for unemployment in the first place. That’s according to a tally of state filings with the US Labor Department by attorney Rory MacAneney of CLA, which provides free legal help in Western Massachusetts.
Many people facing overpayments have already spent the money on necessities like food, rent, and transportation, or made purchases assuming they could afford it, said Hannah Tanabe, a staff attorney in the employment unit of GBLS. And since a majority of the overpaid benefits were funded by the feds, recoveries effectively drain money from the Massachusetts economy.
“We shouldn’t be driving workers who are getting back on their feet into more precarious financial situations when the overpayment resulted through no fault of their own,” she said.