By Karen Morfitt

DENVER (CBS4) – For nearly four years Adam Brill worked as an Uber driver. When a stay-at-home order was issued due to the pandemic, business declined and he stopped driving.

“I made the decision because I take care of my mother who has pre-existing conditions and is very high risk for COVID(-19),” he said.

(credit: CBS)

When a new system for unemployment was established for “gig” workers he knew he would need the help. The online application asks that income or losses be reported.

“For gig workers we only have 1099 forms, so that’s all I had to provide my wages in the past,” Brill said.

Months later he filed his tax returns which included his income after expenses. That change led to a redetermination of his benefits and they would be cut in half.

Not only would he be getting less help, he had a bill to pay.

“I got an email saying ‘Now because of your redetermination of wages you have an overpayment of about $6,000, and because of that we now have to garnish $112 out of your weekly benefits,’” he said.

CBS4’s Karen Morfitt interviews Adam Brill. (credit: CBS)

Brill believes the system was rushed into place and the error should fall on the state.

“The state was clear when this system was created and now you’re figuring out the error of your ways, now we are going to go against what was in the CARES Act to begin with and ask these people to pay back the money,” he said

In an email a spokesperson at the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment says the issues are largely in part due to applicants not reading/understanding the questions. They say they use required federal forms.

However, they are now working on revising that language so it’s more clear.

“It’s flat wrong, during unprecedented times when people desperately need help,” Brill said.

The state is working to determine exactly how many Coloradans were overpaid and may now owe the state. They plan to hold an update on Thursday morning.

Karen Morfitt

Comments (4)
  1. Debra says:

    I would not have know about a bill owed back to DLE if not for this story. I had to log into my account and search to find that I now owe $6300 for overpayment of UI. I submitted all tax docs as requested by DLE in March. I did not misread anything in the process as the DLE suggests in the story. I was working fine until March and the state ordered shut down. The state and DLE invited independent contractors to apply for assistance, the DLE approved my account and set the balance I qualified for. Now the DLE wants Colorado workers to pay for DLE incompetence. And, they are trying to do it under the radar, targeting PUA applicants as the Heroes Act pends approval in congress. I think a class action law suit is in order.

  2. Craig McClure says:

    Same boat here. I did exactly as they asked, acted in good faith, and have reported every dollar of income since then. I now have by benefits cut in half and owe $10K in overpayments. I elected to take unemployment rather than PPP because of their calculations and now I’m stuck.

  3. Jacob says:

    I’m in the exact situation! How am I supposed to live on $111 a week, and pay back over $7k that THEY made the mistake of determining were my initial benefits. As a full time Uber driver for almost 4 years, I drove over 50,000 miles a year. I had to sell my car in April before they created PUA, so now I have an old beat up 1988 truck that I have to roll start, and after paying October rent, I’m flat broke. And now they’re holding my $111 payment this week, with no explanation. I went from $1100/wk (STILL LESS THAN I MADE DRIVING UBER) to $500/wk to $223/wk after the redetermination of benefits, also over $7k in overpayment now due back, which they now take half of so $111/wk, and now they’re even holding that payment. THE STATE DETIRMINED MY INCOME FROM MY FEDERALY ISSUED TAX RETURN. I DID NOT FALSIFY MY INCOME. THEY MADE THE MISTAKE, NOT US!

  4. Justin Day says:

    Gig Workers should sue the state. I applied for this as soon as soon as it went live. The website said nothing about W2 impacting approval on the first day/hours applications were taken. Gave them the tax info that was requested. Received payments for weeks and then fell into the same category as the man in the story. The state should not have rushed approving people if the information made them ineligible. I was told I applied wrong because of one temp job in 2018 that I had for less than 2 months because it was a W2 based job. It made me ineligible after they approved funds for weeks. I have not received a bill on what I may owe yet and that is scary enough considering I’ve lost over 20K in income from what I would have made from my 1099 job of 8 years. The state failed and I love Colorado but this hurts 1099 workers in a time when we need it the most. Thankfully I’ve been able to find a new job but it is no where close to what I was previously making. Best of luck to all 1099 workers and the state should admit fault here.

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