Unemployment Overpayment: What Happens When the DUA Overpays

Unemployment overpayment

Unemployment Overpayment: What Happens When the DUA Overpays

Have you been asked to return money sent to you by the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance? If you receive a notice of overpayment from the DUA, you should consult with an attorney to see if you should challenge their decision.

What is the DUA?

The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) oversees all unemployment benefits given to Massachusetts residents in need of supplemental income. This is given to eligible residents who are temporarily unable to work or have lost their job.

To receive benefits from the DUA, Massachusetts residents must file a claim if they determine that they meet eligibility requirements. The DUA does not always approve filed claims, and the amount paid out can vary. Having an attorney when you file ensures that you don’t miss any necessary information that could determine your compensation.

How the DUA Take Back Overpayments?

If the DUA determines that they overpaid you, you will receive a Notice of Overpayment. This notice will explain their discovery of the overpayment, how much you were overpaid, and there will be any penalties if they deem that you are “at fault” for the overpayment.

To take back the overpayment, the DUA will deduct the amount from the unemployment benefits that you continue to receive. If you are not receiving more benefits, they will collect it from your tax refund.

What Happens If the DUA Decides You Are “At Fault”

If the DUA decides that you are “at fault” for the unemployment overpayment, you could be fined and experience penalties. In most cases, you will receive a 15% penalty. However, if you have been overpaid for several weeks, you could experience a penalty for each week you were overpaid.

Just because you are deemed “at fault” by the DUA does not mean you cannot contest it. You have the opportunity to get an overpayment waived if you believe that the overpayment was not your fault or paying back the overpayment could cause serious financial hardship.

The best chance of getting an overpayment waived is through hiring an attorney. They can assess your unique situation and determine whether you have a valid case to get the payment waived. An experienced attorney understands DUA overpayments and has had prior experience handling cases just like yours. They will be able to best represent you in this situation.

How Can I Get an Overpayment Waived?

To get an overpayment waived, you will need to file a waiver that proves you should not be held accountable for paying back the overpayment. There are three reasons you can get a payment waived:

  • The overpayment by the DUA was not your fault.
  • Paying back the overpayment would cause serious financial hardship on you.
  • You have a reasonable argument as to why paying back the money would be unfair.

If the Overpayment Is Not Your Fault

Overpayments of unemployment benefits are common, especially when you consider the increased need for unemployment during the pandemic.

If the overpayment is not your fault, you will need to provide an argument that can be backed up by factual evidence. Consult with an attorney if you believe that you are not at fault for an overpayment. They can determine what evidence you may need to provide in order to make a valid claim.

An experienced attorney will know what evidence would be needed to prove if the DUA is at fault for the overpayment.

Financial Hardship

Being asked to return money to the DUA has the potential to cause serious financial stress. The purpose of unemployment assistance is to help people get by during periods when they are unable to work. So, in most cases, people will have used the money they were paid.

If the DUA sends out a Notice of Overpayment, you may have the opportunity to challenge their decision on the grounds that it may cause financial hardship on you and your loved ones.

To show financial hardship, you would have to provide evidence that the payments were going towards necessities, such as job-search expenses, home expenses, clothing, food, transportation, or insurance. When you file a waiver, you will submit receipts proving each expense that the money is needed for.

Unfair Payback

Another way to prevent owing money back to the DUA is to argue that returning the money would be unfair. To do this, you would need to have a solid argument backing your claim. For example, the DUA is responsible for the overpayment, and you were not notified of the possibility that you may need to return the money to them.

Filing a Waiver to Stop Collecting Overpayment

Filing a waiver could stop the DUA from collecting overpayment. You would need to file the waiver request within 15 days of receiving the Notice of Overpayment. After the 15 days, you are only able to file a waiver if you meet financial hardship criteria.

If your waiver is denied, you will have the opportunity to appeal their decision. This will require a hearing where you can present evidence to back your claim. If you are planning to appeal a decision by the DUA, you may bring an attorney to represent you at the hearing.

Waiver forms can either be found online or by calling the DUA Telephone Claims Center, so they can send you a copy.



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