New Mexico overpaid unemployment benefits by as much as $250 million during pandemic

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The budget and accountability office of the Legislature says New Mexico may have overpaid unemployment insurance benefits by as much as $250 million during the coronavirus pandemic amid a backlog in claim investigations.

Analysts on Wednesday briefed members of the Legislature’s lead budget writing committee on the trajectory of record-setting unemployment claims during pandemic.

New Mexico has paid out about $3 billion in unemployment claims since the outset of the pandemic last year.

Overwhelmed initially by the workload for processing claims, the state Workforce Solutions Department reassigned staff to help. That left fewer people to investigate overpayments and fraud concerns.