ALABAMA (WHNT) — The State of Alabama paid out a record amount of unemployment during the pandemic, but now the Alabama Department of Labor (ADOL) is asking Alabamians to repay some of the money they received.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Alabama gave out more than $725 million in unemployment in 2021 and 2022. More than $164 million of that total was overpaid.

“I believe it has a very high chance of hurting a lot of Alabamians that have to pay this money back,” said PRF Institute Executive Director Dr. Nathaniel Dunlap Jr.

The pandemic left many Americans without jobs and financial security.

“If this pandemic, this was back in spring of 2020, if it was going to be something that was going to be going on for a while, then people we’ve been dealing with for almost 14 years now were not prepared for such a thing,” Dunlap said.

PRF Institute is a financial education firm, and Dunlap said organizations like his exist to help people overcome financial hardships.

“There is hope,” Dunlap said. “A lot of the time, in situations like this, people don’t feel like there’s hope. People feel like they don’t have a way out.”

In February of 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor authorized states to waive overpaid unemployment benefits, but Alabama is not offering blanket forgiveness.

“Individuals are finding out they might not have been entitled to some things or the amount of money they received they should not have received, and I think it’s one of those things you can’t just put on the individual,” Dunlap said.

He said, if you are struggling, look to your community for help.

“It’s a breakdown of the system, so hopefully we can come to some resolution for the sake of individuals because Alabamians have suffered quite a bit,” Dunlap said.

ADOL is offering a waiver of repayment. If you overpaid through no fault of your own, you may not have to repay the state. Waivers can be obtained at the following address.

Alabama Department Of Labor
649 Monroe Street, Room 3430
Montgomery, AL 36131-4200

For more information, call ADOL at (334) 956-4000.