In this Wednesday, April 22, 2020 photo a closed sign is posted in the window of a store because of the coronavirus, in an outdoor mall, in Dedham, Mass. More than 4.4 million laid-off workers applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week as job cuts escalated across an economy that remains all but shut down, the government said Thursday. 

Delaware Department of Labor Secretary Cerron Cade is reminding the record number of Delawareans filing for unemployment to be careful with the numbers they are reporting, to avoid a potentially lengthy delay in benefits.

Cade was asked by a caller during AARP's Town Hall with Senator Tom Carper Friday night about why an appeal led to her son owing $1,000 back to the Department of Labor.

"One of the things that has not been rolled back is the focus on over-payment," Cade responded. "If a person is said to owe unemployment, it typically means that whatever time period they requested unemployment, they were working during that time period."

Cade told the virtual audience that they're working to reduce the lag time when it comes to appeals, which can defer payments.

"Unfortunately, with the thousands of people that we have [appealing], the appeals process will take a little bit of time to get to folks. We are hiring more appeals officers in order to make sure we can deal with what will be an increased number of people who are challenging decisions by the Department of Labor, but it's a difficult situation."

One warning that Cade emphasized is to pay close attention to what data you're putting into a system. Even a slight error could cost you time or money.

"You take on the responsibility, so it's difficult for it to be an accidental, short of putting in the numbers incorrect. I just tell people to be cautious when you report your information. Make sure you're putting in the same information your employer is, so that we don't run into these issues. We don't want to be stuck going through appeals, while you need to be getting your benefits."

Going into this week, Delaware has seen 95,824 unemployment claims filed since March 15, including 5,554 initial claims last week. Over $234 million in benefits has been distributed to Delawareans, $142.2 million from the Federal Government, with $91.9 million from the Delaware Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.