CBS 3 assists with costly unemployment mistake - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM


Westfield woman receives $6,000 from unemployment after CBS 3 investigates

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After CBS 3 made some calls to the Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development, a Westfield resident received a $6,000 check Thursday morning that was owed to her because of an unemployment compensation error.

CBS 3 received a call from Kelly LaBranche who said she'd only been getting half of her unemployment money from the state for the past six months. According to her, it's because of a mistake on their end they had not fixed.

CBS 3 Springfield's Julie Leonardi made some calls Wednesday morning and asked the tough questions to get to the bottom the conflict. Within a few hours LaBranche was contacted by them letting her know their mistake will be fixed, but the past six months have been a struggle for her.

LaBranche applied for unemployment back in August. She received a letter from the state saying she owed $10,000 because they overpaid her from the first time she applied in 2012. After contacting the Department of Unemployment Assistance, they told her that was a mistake on their end and they would fix the problem, but that's not what happened.

"I've been calling every week, never getting a phone call back saying they're aware of the overpayment issues," LaBranche said.

LaBranche reached out to state Sen. Don Humnason, who said his office has received nearly five calls a week from constituents having similar issues with the unemployment assistance system.

"Because of the computer systems, I can only call a certain time a week," LaBranche said.

LaBranche has been focusing all of her time on trying to get the problem fixed and taking care of her son, she said.

"I can't imagine all the people who are trying to figure this out," she said.

Before LaBranche and Leonardi sat down Wednesday, LaBranche got a call from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development saying the $6,000 they owed her will be sent to her Thursday morning.

"All of a sudden I've gotten four or five phone calls today saying that they're handling it as of tomorrow and the money will be in my account," LaBranche said.

LaBranche said this has all been a huge inconvenience and she hopes the money she is owed will be in her account Thursday morning. A representative from the state did not explain what the holdup was with the money but did mention that they were calling LaBranche to get the issue resolved right away.

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