New Relief from Pandemic Unemployment Overpayments

Posted on: December 30, 2020

Updated as of December 29, 2020                         

The President signed the new stimulus bill providing new relief for many. The new laws will go into effect soon. These laws may provide relief if you currently have an Overpayment on your account for unemployment benefits you received under certain federal programs.

If the agency issues you an Overpayment, it is important that you appeal it and request a waiver. There are time limits to do this, so it is important that you do this right away. The Louisiana agency has not been providing waiver papers to a lot of people who received the special pandemic unemployment benefits before. The paperwork asks about your finances. If you do not get these papers before your hearing, ask for them and point that out at the hearing.

What are the changes under the new Act?

Until now, if you received benefits under some federal unemployment programs and shouldn’t have, there were no exceptions to the requirement that you pay the money back, even if you did nothing wrong. Now you can request a “waiver” (forgiveness of the debt) if it was not your fault and would cause a hardship.

You can now request a waiver if you are issued an Overpayment for receiving benefits under the following programs:

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: This is the federal program that allows people who cannot receive regular state unemployment benefits when their unemployment is Covid-19 related. These are usually people who do not have enough countable wages for state unemployment. But it also includes some people disqualified from state benefits.
  • Lost Wage Assistance: This provided an additional $300 of unemployment benefits during part of August and September, 2020.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation that added $600 dollars a week to unemployment benefits up until July and now provides $300 already allowed waivers.

How do I appeal an Overpayment?

Appeal right away to protect your rights! You only have 15 days to submit your appeal. Just because you appealed your disqualification does not mean you appealed your overpayments. Often there will be more than one overpayment notice. You must appeal each overpayment separately. Your overpayment notice will include the date you must submit your appeal by. If you miss the deadline, you may lose your right to appeal.

The letter will provide instructions on how to appeal the overpayment. You can appeal:

  • Online through your HIRE account at net. (This will be the fastest option.)
  • Email— Complete the "I appeal" section on your letter, scan the page, and email it to ClerkAppeal@lwc.la.gov.
  • Fax—Complete the "I appeal" section on your letter, and fax it to 1-225-346-6077.
  • Postal mail— Complete the "I appeal" section on your letter, make a copy, and mail it to:

Louisiana Workforce Commission

Attn: Appeals Tribunal

P.O. Box 94094

Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9094

Make sure your appeal is postmarked by the appeal deadline provided on your letter.

If you decide to file an appeal and were getting benefits, you should still file your weekly certifications.

You should also be sent papers to request a waiver. You will fill out information about your income and expenses, and have the chance to explain why you cannot pay the overpayment amount.

These papers are often titled, “Consideration for Waiver of Recovery.”

It is important that you provide all of the information about your finances and hardships on these forms. Providing proof of these expenses will help as well. You will need to complete these forms and add them with your appeal.

The “Consideration for Waiver” form and proof of expenses do not need to be attached on the same day you submit your appeal, BUT it needs to be uploaded in the appeals section in HIRE for your overpayments at least 2 BUSINESS DAYS before the day of your hearing. An administrative law judge is not required to accept or review any documents that are not on time.

If you do not have a HIRE account, you may also submit this form by one of the following methods:

  • Email— complete the "I appeal" section on your letter, scan the page, and email it to ClerkAppeal@lwc.la.gov.
  • Fax—complete the "I appeal" section on your letter, and fax it to 1-225-346-6077.
  • Postal mail— Complete the "I appeal" section on your letter, make a copy, and mail it to:

Louisiana Workforce Commission

Attn: Appeals Tribunal

P.O. Box 94094

Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9094

Make sure you send your Consideration for Waiver form as soon as possible to allow time for delivery of postal mail. The Board of Review may review a “Consideration for Waiver” form that is submitted after a hearing has already been held, but there needs to be just cause. An example of just cause is if the Agency did not provide this form for you to fill out.

You can also call Southeast Louisiana Legal Services to see if we can give you free legal help. Call our COVID-19 Helpline at 1-844-244-7871 to apply for free legal assistance. But go ahead and appeal before you hear back from Legal Services.

What happens if I appeal?

If your appeal is submitted before the deadline on your letter, a telephone hearing will be scheduled with an Administrative Law Judge, unless the agency fixes the problem ahead of time.  Be sure you are available for your hearing. If you cannot make the scheduled time, you must contact the agency as soon as possible so that you don’t automatically lose your appeal.

You will be sent a letter with the hearing date, time, and the reason for the hearing. Be sure to read this letter carefully.

The judge must also explain your rights at the hearing. These rights include the right to:

  • speak for yourself
  • have witnesses with important information speak
  • go over your entire record of documents and proof submitted regarding your unemployment claim and overpayment.
  • object to improper evidence or testimony

If you are not given the opportunity to appeal or if you are not given information on your hearing, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

At the hearing you will have the opportunity to explain why the overpayment is incorrect or why the amount the State claims that you need to repay is incorrect.

 

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