CINCINNATI — Elizabeth Willard was relieved when she qualified for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in Ohio. As an independent contractor who styles hair for weddings, she wasn’t eligible for traditional unemployment when the bridal industry shut down in March due to COVID-19.

But she wasn’t as grateful after Ohio’s Department of Job and Family Services asked for a refund, claiming Willard was overpaid by $4,085.50.

“When I was approved for $398 a week, I assumed that was the amount that the unemployment system configured I was approved for. I called numerous times to make sure all my information was submitted correctly,” Willard wrote the agency in September.

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