HANNIBAL, Mo. (WGEM) — If someone asked you for your past few months of your wages back right now, would you be able to pay them?
More than 45,000 of Missourians are facing a similar question right now because the Missouri Department of Labor claims they got COVID-19 unemployment benefits they didn’t qualify for.
“It was this morning that I received notification that all of the payments, that the state of Missouri has given to me from the cares act are asked to being paid back. That’s $17,255, that they want due immediately,” said John Tomko, a self employed man who lives in Hannibal.
Tomko said since the beginning of the pandemic his usual gig work, which involves in-person meetings and traveling, hasn’t been able to happen.
He said that means he and his mother have relied on COVID-19 unemployment dollars, until now.
“It almost caused me a heart attack and devastation with the sticker shock to said that the state of Missouri would do this,” said Tomko.
Tomko has another more important job as well.
“I’m an in home dialysis technician for my mother under medical quarantine and self quarantine,” said Tomko explaining his mother is a very high risk patient.
“So, we are high-risk in our household we have to be extremely careful following all the CDC guidelines.”
Tomko said he trained to operate a dialysis machine so his high-risk mother wouldn’t have to travel to the doctor’s office.
He e said he went to great lengths to get doctors notes and document everything for the state to keep track of.
“Every document they wanted, I submitted and they approved it, and within one moment they took all of that away,” said Tomko.
He said the money paid for groceries, the heat, medical bills, and more.
“All of the things that we need to stay afloat because I cannot earn the income that I need to by leaving this house. Otherwise, I can bring the virus into our home,” said Tomko.
Tomko said he and his mother’s wellbeing could depend on being able to fight this.
“I’m absolutely going to appeal this decision where there has to be by myself or with an attorney, because this is ridiculous,” said Tomko.
Missouri 5th District Representative Louis Riggs (R) told WGEM News he supports bi-partisan efforts to make sure the people don’t have to pay back the money.
WGEM News also reached out to the Missouri Department of Labor about the matter, they had not responded as of publishing time.
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