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Overpaid Unemployment Benefits VA

  • By: lipplaw
    Published: June 8, 2021

Were you overpaid unemployment benefits in Virginia? If yes, you may qualify for a recent Virginia Employment Commission waiver process.

Below is a breakdown of everything you need to know about the VEC’s overpayment waiver process.

Virginia Employment Law Bill

Virginia 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.

Since many workers were laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic, the VEC had a large 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) increased unemployment benefits and expanded who is eligible for the benefits, further increasing the number of unemployment claims.

This increased demand for unemployment benefits led to many erroneous payments because the VEC was overloaded with claims. Under normal circumstances, these overpayments were 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 benefits, Virginia passed this bill to address these issues.

This bill became effective on July 1, 2021, and the VEC’s authority to waive repayments of erroneous payments expired on July 1, 2022. However, even though we are now outside this period, you may still want to consider seeking a waiver from the VEC.

How do you obtain a waiver for overpayment?

Individuals who were overpaid for weeks claimed between March 15, 2020, to the week starting June 27, 2021, received written waiver notifications from the VEC. The overpayment notice contains the necessary information on how to submit an overpayment waiver request form. You’ll need to act fast because the application is due 30 days following the mailing of the VEC notification.

When is an individual eligible for a waiver?

You are eligible for a waiver of repayment when:

  • The determination of overpayment was made without fault on your part
  • Repayment would be “contrary to equity and good conscience.”

A VEC hearing officer determines eligibility for the waiver. Please note that individuals will be ineligible for reimbursement of repayments already made, unless the repayments were to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

What does without fault mean?

An overpayment is described as “without fault” when the individual accurately and truthfully reports information the VEC requested. If any information provided is incomplete, inaccurate, misleading, or false, the payment cannot be considered “without fault.”

For instance, if an individual reported their reason for unemployment as “lack of work” when in truth they quit, the report is false, and the VEC cannot deem it “without fault.”

Also, if an individual earned a living in a specific week but didn’t report it in their weekly claim for benefits, it prevents the VEC from finding the overpayment “without fault.”

According to Virginia law, situations that result in a without fault finding include:

  • A VEC administrative error
  • A result of solicitation, coercion, or inducement on the employer’s part
  • The employer’s failure to adequately or timely respond to the VEC request for additional information

Things that don’t qualify as “without fault” include:

  • A worker was deemed ineligible for benefit payments 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 of benefits
  • The waiver applicant received unemployment benefits through fraud.

What is contrary to equity and good conscience?

According to Virginia law, something is contrary to equity and good conscience when the VEC repayment of overpayment would deprive the individual of the income they need to provide necessities, including food, childcare, medicine, shelter, and other key living expenses.

State and federal laws require the VEC to consider facts surrounding an individual’s situation in waiving the requirement to pay back an overpayment of unemployment benefits.

What happens when I miss the 30-day deadline?

State law allows the VEC to extend the 30 days with good cause. Good cause includes factors or circumstances out of your control, and that prevented you from making the waiver request within the set timeline.

Can I appeal a denied waiver request?

Yes. Like other VEC decisions or determinations, you have 30 days to file an appeal. Every decision or determination letter comes with clear explanations of your appeals rights and explains the appeals process.

Can I request a waiver for overpayments past June 27, 2021?

Overpayments made between July 1, 2021, to July 1, 2022, can also be waived. The VEC’s authority to waive repayments of overpayments expired on July 1, 2022, however, individuals are still encouraged to apply for waivers.

If you received a VEC benefits overpayment and are wondering if you are eligible for the waiver (or appealing a waiver denial), don’t hesitate to get in touch with 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