Ex-GM workers asked to repay benefits

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Thursday, December 17, 2009
— Several hundred laid off General Motors employees in the Janesville area have been asked to repay overpayments in Supplemental Unemployment Benefits they received earlier this year.

But the problem, many have said, is that the window between when they were asked to pay and when the money was due back to GM was either incredibly tight or, in some cases nonexistent.

The overpayments can be traced to March when the laid-off workers received more SUB pay than they were supposed to. SUB is a program negotiated between the automaker and the United Auto Workers that complements state unemployment compensation.

Starting in March, however, state unemployment checks increased by $25 a week as a result of the federal stimulus program. Once the amount of the state checks increased by $25, the SUB checks should have decreased by $25, and it took a period of weeks for the SUB check adjustment to be made.

According to a letter one local employee received from GM, the weekly SUB checks were $25 too much for five weeks in March.

In the letter dated Dec. 7 and received by the employee Dec. 12, GM said the employee’s SUB overpayment was $125. If repaid in the current calendar year, tax liabilities would reduce the amount owed to about $88.

But to balance the books for 2009, GM said the payment had to be received in Michigan no later than Dec. 10, two days before the employee received the letter. Payments not made in the required timeframe will be deducted from future paychecks or SUB payments, the letter said.

Several callers to the WCLO radio “Stan Milam Show” said they didn’t receive the letter until Dec. 9, Dec. 10 or after and could not possibly get a repayment check to GM by the deadline.

GM spokeswoman Kim Carpenter said Wednesday that the “aggressive” deadline of Dec. 10 would allow the overpayments to be repaid in the current tax cycle rather than extending into next year.

Anyone with issues making the repayment or who wants to appeal it should contact the GM Benefits and Services Center at 1-800-489-4646.

Last updated: 12:09 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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