Our office was flooded with calls this week from people seeking help from the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) seeking to collect on Overpayment of Benefits determinations.
First of all, do not panic. Let’s talk about some of the problems:
• At height of COVID shutdowns, individuals who were previously eligible for unemployment (like 1099 employees) were able to submit (without documentation) they had a loss of work and receive assistance, pursuant to the CARES Act;
• The Continued Assistance Act (CAA), however, required claimants to submit proof of employment or self-employment to maintain eligibility (which states were permitted to request before but typically did not do so).
• UIA is taking fraud very seriously. If you received benefits because you used another identity or certified you were eligible for benefits bi-weekly when you were actually working – this is fraud. You will need to repay the overpayment and may even be assessed additional penalties.
• If you had a job (as an employee or self-employed) and then lost it, then you probably qualified for benefits. It is possible there was an overpayment, but the overpayment was due to a good faith mistake. You may qualify for a waiver of your overpayments, but the most effective path to to removal of overpayment is provide income verification. Being responsive and providing documents helps to support your good faith efforts.
• UIA correspondence is extremely confusing. This is not a new problem. Determinations are often made on individual benefit weeks which are ruled on separately, so an individual will receive multiple letters that seem to contradict one another. Or, sometimes a denial will be issued for no apparent reason.
The takeaway: It is important to-
1) provide income documentation promptly and repeatedly, if necessary;
2) appeal a denial if you feel it is unwarranted;
3) stay patient, respond to correspondence, and continue efforts to provide documents and resolve matters.
If you would like to review your correspondence with an attorney to help advise you and assist you with your resolution strategy with UIA, click here to schedule a consultation. By the end of this strategy meeting, you will have some clarity on dealing with the UIA going forward.
Bankruptcy can also resolve your UIA overpayment issues. click here to schedule a bankruptcy consultation.