What happens if you receive an overpayment of PUA benefits?
The Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is required by the CARES Act to identify and recover CARES Act benefits that were overpaid. An overpayment, or improper payment, occurs if you are paid unemployment benefit payments and DUA later determines that you were not eligible to receive them. Even if the overpayment is not your fault, you will be required to repay the amount of benefits that you received unless you apply for and receive a waiver of the obligation to repay.
Notice of overpayment
If you are overpaid benefits, you will receive a “Notice of Determination.” The notice will explain the following:
- Reasoning and findings for the overpayment
- The number of weeks you were overpaid
- Amount of the overpayment
- Any possible penalties for Interest and penalties
If you are determined “at fault” for an overpayment, you will receive a “Notice of Fault Finding”. PUA overpayments that were determined to be at fault will be assessed a one-time 15% penalty.
What can cause an overpayment of PUA benefits?
An overpayment can be caused by many things:
- We were unable to verify you were attached to the labor force prior to applying for PUA benefits
- You received benefits from regular unemployment at the same time you received PUA benefits
- You received benefits for a period you worked and failed to report your earnings
- You declared dependent children that could not be verified
- You requested to have your claim predated which required us to examine your earnings from a different period
- We were unable to verify your identity
- You filed a PUA claim in Massachusetts without any proof that you lived in Massachusetts or were attached to the labor market in Massachusetts
Filing an appeal
If you disagree with the determination that you are ineligible for benefits and overpaid as a result of the ineligible determination, or that the amount of the overpayment is incorrect, you can file an appeal within 30 days of the Notice of Determination being issued. To file an appeal, you must follow the instructions included with the determination notice. If you file an appeal, no collection actions will be taken until after the appeal has been decided.
Options to repay an overpayment
You can pay online with a credit card, send a check by mail, and make electronic payments from your checking or savings account by logging in to your PUA account. Payments by mail can be made by check or money order only. Do not send cash. Mail your check or money order to:
MA Department of Unemployment Assistance
P.O. Box 9699
Boston, MA 02114
Important note: If paying by check, money order, or through your bank’s Bill Pay, you must include your claim ID to ensure the payment is processed to your account.
Offsets and refund intercept
If you fail to repay your overpayment, DUA can collect overpayments by offsetting up to 50% of your benefits for this claim and future claims, including claims for traditional unemployment benefits, taking state and federal tax refunds, or by filing a civil action against you in the Massachusetts District Courts.
Right to request an overpayment waiver
If you cannot repay the overpayment, you may complete a Request for a Waiver of Overpayment by logging in to your PUA account on E-Services.
You may be entitled to a waiver of your overpayment if your overpayment was not due to fault, and if you meet the standards of G.L. c. 151A, sec. 69(c) and 430 CMR 6.00. That section of the law requires you to show that you either have no ability to repay without depriving yourself or your family of the ability to pay ordinary expenses, or you gave up the right to collect other benefits be receiving unemployment benefits in order to receive a waiver.
No collections actions will occur on your account until at least 15 days from the date of a final notice of overpayment. If you file a request for a waiver, no collections will occur until after a determination has been made on your waiver request.
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