Unbelievable Or What We’ve Come To Expect?

Voice From The Bullpen

Things used to happen which we seemed to think unimaginable and/or unbelievable, and could, or should, have never occurred, but as time has gone on in a world which seems to have often accepted mediocrity as the norm, sadly, many of the occurrences we read in newspapers and see on television, are now just things we’ve come to expect.

Case in point is a recent article discussing a state legislator wanting to see Unemployment Fraud Figures for the past year. The article though, also included a report of 166,000 people from the state supposedly receiving overpayments totaling $145 million. That seems to be totally unbelievable, or it is something we’ve come to expect?

How is it possible that 166,000 mistakes were made by a government department, which supposedly cost the state $145 million? I say supposedly, because I personally know some of those who received letters saying they were overpaid, and were told they had to pay it back, but when checking their own records and couldn’t find the overpayment. One in particular, found the claimed payment record of the state Labor Department in his/her name and there were two dated lines, each saying he/she received an extra payment of $600 per those weeks.

After he/she saw those lines, they indicated payment, but not how the payment was made, yet all other payments that were made by the state indicated a Direct Deposit to his/her Debit Card account. After pulling up his/her bank records and going back through the time this person was receiving unemployment benefits, he/she could not see a double deposit on the dates indicated by the state letter received by him/her. This information was then compiled by this person and sent to the state Department of Labor, where he/she is now awaiting word on the matter.

I have also heard from a number of other people who also received letters of overpayment, and are possibly having to do the same, expending the same wonderment, frustration, time, work, and mailing expenses, and possibly other things to find out if the overpayment is truly legitimate, raising questions, one being three-fold, who made the mistake of overpaying, what onus of the mistake(s) falls on the supervisor of the worker(s), and are those people being held accountable? Question two would be, how many employees of the Department of Labor were responsible for the mistake(s) of overpaying? Was it just one, or was it a number of employees, supervisors, and, again, are they all being held accountable?

I realize the article also spoke of unemployment fraud, and I am sure many people throughout the state filed for benefits, some of them just seeing if they would be approved and could collect. The persons with whom I spoke, who received overpayment letters, were all legitimately, negatively affected financially due to the pandemic. If the state is out $145 million due to overpayment of benefits, how much is it out if you add in the fraud figures, and are some financial victims of the pandemic, who received benefits, being used as an attempt to recover what was taken by those who were fraudulent in receiving those benefits, and to help get back some of what may have been legitimately overpaid? Is the state hoping those who receive the letter of overpayment will just read it, accept it, and write a check and mail it in to the Department of Labor?

Wouldn’t all this make the financial victims, also victims of whoever, and however many people who seem to exhibit incompetency in their jobs, who OK’d benefits for some who should not have received them, and who overpaid some of the people who both legitimately and illegitimately received benefits?

Its mind boggling to some, myself at the head of that line, that 166,000 mistakes were made resulting in a loss of $145 million by members of a government agency. I realize the agency was bombarded when this all began, but that’s no excuse for the incompetence and non-accountability which seems to be apparent in this instance. I hope we do not succumb to mediocrity and complacency of just accepting these mistakes by agencies as matter-of-fact occurrences.

I realize mistakes happen. No one is perfect, and mistakes are going to happen, but when the mistakes result in a loss of $145 million, there needs to be some accountability held by the agency employing the people who allowed the cost to rise to the level it does. I, for one, am not coming to expect, nor accept, occurrences like this with a “c’est la vie” attitude. I hope you aren’t too.


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