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Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) overpayments and waivers

The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is required to identify and recover CARES Act benefits that were overpaid-this is called an “overpayment”. The page has information about what to do if you are notified you were overpaid PUA benefits or that you are eligible to request a waiver.

If you were overpaid, you can: 

  • make arrangements to repay the overpayment, or
  • ask DUA to forgive the overpayment, or
  • can appeal the decision that created the overpayment within certain time limits, or
  • appeal and request a waiver at the same time

Table of Contents

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.

coming soon online payment

Right to request an overpayment waiver

If you have an overpayment of unemployment benefits, you may complete a Request for a Waiver of Overpayment application asking DUA to forgive the overpayment amount. If a waiver is granted, you will not have to repay the benefits you received.

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.

DUA has authority to waive an overpayment if:

  • The overpayment was not your fault; and
  • Your income is less than your expenses; or
  • You used the money for things that were not ordinary expenses, like paying off a debt; or
  • You gave up other money (such as welfare payments) because you got unemployment benefits; or
  • You receive certain income-eligible benefits such as SNAP or similar benefits.

You can apply for a waiver of overpayment, even if you have been denied before. If you apply for a waiver, we will not take action to collect on your overpayment until we make a decision on your waiver request. 

Additional Relief Provided by United States Department of Labor (USDOL)

Massachusetts had requested that USDOL provide relief for all claimants with overpayments related to a new employment substantiation requirement created midway through the program. “Employment substantiation” refers to a federal rule change that required you to send us documents about your employment prior to your application for benefits. The U.S. Department of Labor has allowed DUA to waive your overpayment for the period when you did not have notice of the new requirement. The waiver covers only overpayments made for the period running from the week ending January 2, 2021 through the week ending March 20, 2021.

Claimants do not need to take any action to receive a waiver for overpayment for the period of December 27, 2020 through March 23, 2021. Claimants may request a waiver for the balance of their overpayment. 


Contact   for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) overpayments and waivers


To access PUA application online: Log in as a claimant 


Open 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Monday–Friday. Multilingual call agents are available.

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