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Illinois woman says she’s being asked to pay back nearly $5,000 of unemployment funds

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — Hairstylist Brittany Welch says she's at her wits end.

"I'm at the point where I'm frustrated and angry and I don't know what to do anymore."

RELATED: State representatives demand answers from IDES officials

Welch received Pandemic Unemployment Assistance last year to get through the pandemic. However, she says the state told her she was overpaid and is asking for nearly $5,000 back. Welch says she requested a waiver of this repayment and was denied.

"I'm shocked, honestly I was prepared for this to get waived and I'm shocked it came back that I was at fault," says Welch.

Welch says the state didn't say why she was denied, only the wrongdoing was on her end. She says this can't be right because she applied by giving a tax document.

"So I had nothing to do with picking out or telling them what my income was. That was solely on the state's responsibility to do that. You're telling me I owe you money when you're still controlling how much money flows into my doors."

Lawmakers say unemployment issues like this have flooded their offices with calls throughout the pandemic.

"People are just trying to figure out how to pay their bills they don't have the time or the patience to deal with government bureaucracy and how to navigate it," says Senator Steve Stadelman. "It's hard. It's hard for lawmakers to figure out and navigate it let alone someone in their position."

Which is why some are pushing to get back to Springfield, to figure out a solution.

"These people weren't trying to create insurance fraud they were people who at no fault of their own were put out of work by the Governor," says Representative Andrew Chesney. "They were put in a system that didn't work, and now we're slapping them with an outrageous bill. The state should come up with a way to abate that. We can do better than this."

13 News reached out to IDES for this story, and have not yet heard back.