NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – 18 more New Mexicans are suing the state saying they were unjustly denied unemployment benefits. All of the claimants became unemployed during the pandemic. The other thing in common is that they have what is called a fraud determination against them. This is the result of a problem with a prior application such as improperly reported wages.

New Mexico Legal Aid says under state statute, the state can only deny benefits for one year after that fraud determination is filed, but the state is doing it much longer than that. “They’ve blocked a lot of people from receiving their benefits during the pandemic because of these ancient, in some cases, fraud determinations which my clients didn’t know about until they weren’t receiving benefits and called the department to find out why,” said Alicia Clark, New Mexico Legal Aid.

New Mexico Legal Aid says the appeal process for such a fraud determination is 15 days, so many go unchallenged. New Mexico Legal Aid has now filed a suit over the issue. They filed a similar suit in February and won. That suit involved seven clients.