I-Team: New unemployment filing system leads to double payments for some Mainers
AUGUSTA (WGME) -- The I-Team discovers some Mainers received double unemployment payments after the state's new filing system launched in December.
Complaints continue about the new system amid allegations that some of those complaints have been destroyed by the Department of Labor.
Patrick, who didn't want to give his last name for fear of retaliation, relies on unemployment checks to supplement the income from his part-time job.
"It comes on Tuesday morning," he said. "I think they just program it in, 5 o'clock. Boom. It's there."
The Hollis man said his checks have been bigger than they should be. He's supposed to get about $107 per week.
He was expected the $552 dollars in January after not being paid for five weeks, but the next check he couldn't explain.
"I got 775 dollars," he said. " I'm like, this is ridiculous. I'm way overpaid."
Patrick said when he couldn't reach the department by phone, he resorted to snail mail.
"Like I said at the end here, I don't want to have to find out in six months that I now owe you whatever, $2,000, who wants that?" he said.
Last week, he said, an employee at the Bureau of Unemployment Compensation called and told him he'd been overpaid by $324.
"You know, 'You didn't do anything wrong, you got nothing to worry about. We just need to inform you there's a glitch in the system,'" he said of the conversation.
The new unemployment filing system was launched in December, leaving thousands unable to access benefits. Last week, whistleblowers reported they were ordered to destroy some of the complaints that had been filed, an accusation the commissioner denied.
Laura Hudson, a spokesperson for the Maine Department of Labor, told the I-Team the overpayments were the result of trying to resolve claims as quickly as possible. She said TCS, the technology vendor that build the system, ran batches more than once per day for a period of time. "This led to some batches being run out of order, resulting in double payments to some claimants. As soon as this issue was identified and root cause determined, this practice was ended," she said.
Hudson said about 150 people received an extra payment, which they will not have to pay back.
It's a relief for people like Patrick.
"I don't want to pay money back, just hoping to get a job this afternoon and then I'm done," he said.
Lawmakers on the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee said they continue to hear from constituents struggling under the new system.
Rep. Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, said he plans to request a formal, independent investigation later this week.