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New Virginia Employment Law Effective July 1, 2021

  • By: lipplaw
  • Published: June 8, 2021

Were you overpaid unemployment benefits in Virginia?

 You may qualify for a new Virginia Employment Commission waiver process.

Article at a Glance:

A new Virginia law, HB 2040, will create a waiver process benefitting overpaid unemployment benefits recipients.

To quality for the waiver, a benefits recipient must:

  • Have received an overpayment of benefits between March 15, 2020, and June 27, 2021;
  • Have received the overpayment through no fault of their own;
  • The repayment is “contrary to good conscience and equity;” and
  • The overpaid benefits recipient must apply for the waiver within 30 days of receiving a notice of opportunity to apply for the waiver from the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC).

A VEC hearing officer will make an appealable decision on waiver of benefits eligibility.

Virginia recently passed a bill—(HB 2040)—requiring the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) to create a process for individuals who were overpaid unemployment benefits between March 15, 2020, and June 27, 2021, to apply for a waiver relieving them of repayment obligations. As many people have been laid off because of COVID-19, the VEC has had a major uptick in unemployment claims. Government programs such as the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (FPUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) have increased unemployment benefits and expanded who is eligible for the benefits, further increasing the amounts of claims. This increase in demand for unemployment benefits has led to many overpayments happening, because the VEC is overloaded with claims. Under normal circumstances, these overpayments are required to be paid back; however, in response to claimants having trouble communicating with the VEC, i.e., phone lines being busy and emails going unanswered, as well as claimants continuing to need the benefits, Virginia passed this bill to address these issues. This bill becomes effective on July 1, 2021, and the VEC’s authority to waive repayments of overpayments expires on July 1, 2022.

Individuals with an outstanding overpayment balance should expect the VEC to notify them through a written notice when the waiver application becomes available, but no date has been provided for when to expect the release of these notifications. Waiver applications will be due 30 days after receipt of the VEC’s notification. The waiver application will be available online at the VEC’s website.

Individuals are eligible for a waiver if: (1) the VEC was at fault for the overpayment, and (2) repayment would be “contrary to equity and good conscience.” A VEC hearing officer will determine eligibility for the waiver, and a hearing officer’s ineligibility determination will be appealable. Please note that individuals will be ineligible for reimbursement of repayments already made, unless the repayments were to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

The VEC is not at fault for overpayments if:

  • An individual’s eligibility for benefits was denied after adjudication through the VEC appeal process, unless their employer failed to respond timely or adequately to the Commission’s request for information relating to a claim for unemployment benefits;
  • Programming, technical, or system errors caused the overpayment; or
  • The waiver applicant received unemployment benefits through fraud.

The VEC defined repayment as “contrary to equity and good conscience” as instances where repayment would “deprive the individual of income required to provide for necessities, including shelter, food, medicine, childcare, or any other essential living expense.”

If you received a VEC benefits overpayment, and are wondering if you are eligible for the waiver (or appealing a waiver denial), please contact Lipp Law to see if our firm can assist you.

Kathryn Megan Lipp

Katie dedicates her practice to employment separation guidance.
Based on her successful employment litigation practice...Read More

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