Over-payments and waivers

For the week ending 8 May 2021, the Department has added a new over-payment waivers FAQ.

For this new over-payment waiver option, the Department will apply the equity and good conscience standard for the federally funded programs: PUC, LWA, MEUC, PEUC, and PUA. From the FAQ (as of 8 May 2021):

Claimants who are eligible to apply for an overpayment waiver will receive a message in their Claimant Portal Message Center beginning April 28, 2021, with a link to apply for the waiver. Claimants who have previously informed UI that they are unable to access the internet will be mailed the Overpayment Waiver Request form. Claimants must complete the waiver request form within 14 days of the date they are notified of their eligibility to apply.

The computer programming needed to process overpayment waiver requests will be completed by late May 2021, and DWD will begin reviewing waiver requests at that time. A determination can be expected in June 2021 at the soonest.

Upon completed review, claimants will receive an eligibility determination by mail notifying them that their Overpayment Waiver Request was either approved or denied. Waiver request decisions can also be viewed on the Determinations Page in the Claimant Portal. Overpayment waiver request decisions are appealable.

If you believe you should have been eligible for an overpayment waiver but did not receive a message in your Claimant Portal Message Center nor by mail, you may request a review of your claim by calling the UI Claimant Assistance Line at (414) 435-7069 or (844) 910-3661. Before calling, please refer to your overpayment determination notice. If the determination states that the overpayment is, in whole or in part, due to you providing inaccurate or incomplete information, you will not be eligible for a waiver because you have been determined to be in fault, at least in part, for the overpayment. Please note: If you disagree with the decision that you were at fault for the overpayment, you should file an appeal of the overpayment decision to resolve that issue first, rather than requesting an overpayment waiver. If your appeal of the fault determination is in your favor, you may become eligible for a waiver.

Understand from this announcement that this over-payment waiver option went out in late April 2021, and claimants only have 14 days to take advantage of that option. But, the Department will not act on those requests until another month has passed.

And, what of claimants who miss seeing their waiver announcement on their portal? It appears that this waiver announcement is a one-time event/option for those claimants facing an over-payment and who have exhausted their appeal options in their case.

So, even though the Department should be commended for making this waiver available — something that was set forth in UIPL No. 16-20 Change 4 (8 Jan. 2021) at I-26 — this narrow and limited “implementation” is minimizing the scope and impact of this waiver option. It is extremely likely that most claimants will miss this waiver option completely, even though the Department has no ability to act on any waiver requests until the end of May at the earliest.

In other words, the Department has mandated an artificial filing deadline that does not actually matter except as a way to limit eligibility for this over-payment waiver.

And, those that do file their waiver requests are not going to find a Department agreeing with the request. This waiver option only applies if the claimant is not “at fault” for the over-payment, and the Department takes the view that even typographical mistakes by a claimant — even mistakes that have no bearing on eligibility — constitute claimant fault. So, this waiver option will be applied sparingly by the Department.

What that means is the claimants will need to persist through multiple appeals if they hope to eventually get an over-payment waiver because of equity and good conscience. The Department will resist. So, claimant’s need to be steadfast in opposition.

Update (11 May 2021): Hearing notices for PUA cases now include the over-payment waiver language. So, claimants with pending hearings should have the opportunity to argue for an an over-payment waiver if the hearing notice includes the correct language.

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