In Portland, Oregon, after a school bus driver waited months to receive her unemployment benefits, is now panicking after she recently learned that she needs to pay it all back.
In May, Ashley Sterling was laid off after it was announced that schools would stay closed due to the pandemic, so like everyone else, she filed for regular unemployment benefits.
After several months of waiting, Sterling finally received all of her unemployment benefits in September.
Everything was fine until she received a call earlier this month from an adjudicator who said that her claim was still being reviewed. Then on Saturday, she received a letter in the mail stating that her claim was denied and that she now needs to pay all of those benefits back.
She said, “I am at this level of stress that it’s almost like hard to contain myself the last few days and to not break down and cry.” She questioned, “How am I going to pay back thousands of dollars?”
Sterling now plans to file an appeal because she doesn’t know how she will be able to pay back the employment department because she used all the money on bills.
According to KOIN, the Oregon Employment Department said that they can’t speak on individual cases.
However, they said it’s possible Sterling could be someone who received money through the “Benefits While You Wait” program, which they use for people they’re confident will end up being eligible for benefits after the adjudication process.
With no clear answer on what happened, Sterling is left worried and upset. She fears she isn’t the only one this happened to.
She said, “For Oregon to do that, in my opinion, I feel like they’ve failed a lot of us families. There’s still people struggling and you can’t just go back and say, ‘Oh, here’s your money’ and two months later say, ‘I’m just kidding now you have to pay it back.”