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Kentucky bill signed into law could help unemployed overpaid by system

Kentucky's unemployed, who got more help than they were supposed to, received notice that they'll have to pay it back. A new law could ease their stress.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — There are still too many Kentuckians waiting for unemployment help, and although most filers are receiving payments, some have been overpaid. 

As FOCUS reported last summer, substitute teachers fell into the pool of unemployment filers who the state overpaid. 

When they received notice that they had to pay it back, those subs felt like they were drowning.

The substitute teachers we spoke with, like Zach Fisher, said even when school was out for summer break, they continued to request payments because the system told them to do so. 

However, they weren't eligible, and the overpayment letters started coming in well after they already received thousands of dollars.

“Summer 2019, no questions asked, get a summer job. Summer 2020, no questions asked, there are no jobs,” Fisher said.

It's why, Fisher said, he and his fellow subs did it.

“Even in July, we were instructed to continue, continue your request,” Fisher said.

Then came the letter stating he had been overpaid by $3,088 and that money needed to be repaid. Despite his appeals, he said he was in no position to comply. He appealed to his state representative.

“What are you supposed to do? We used that money to live off and now we were asked to pay it back,” Fisher said.

It would have to take an act of the legislature for forgiveness.

Senate Bill 7, which was recently signed into law by Governor Beshear, allows those overpaid to apply for a waiver of forgiveness, as long as they can explain that they didn't cheat the system to get money they knew they weren't supposed to get.

Those eligible for waiver will have 30 days to fill it out.

"I look forward to that waiver," Fisher said. " I will respond on day one."

►Contact reporter John Charlton at jcharlton@whas11.com. Follow him on Twitter (@JCharltonNews) and Facebook.

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