UC Overpayments and Covid19

Frequently Asked Questions about UC Overpayments During Covid19 


I think I have an overpayment but I’m not sure, how do I check?

You can view your overpayment status online.

How do I know whether it is fault or non-fault?

You should have received a notice in the mail when the overpayment was created, and you are probably receiving monthly billing statements which state what type of overpayment you have.  If you were previously unaware of the overpayment, see below.

Another way to tell is by whether or not there is interest listed next to the overpayment.  If there is no interest, it is probably a non-fault overpayment.  If there is interest, it is a fault overpayment.  Fault overpayments accrue interest at a 9% rate.

I was not aware I had an overpayment, is there anything I can do to get rid of it?

If this is the first you are learning of the overpayment, you should appeal.  You can email appeals to UCAPPEALS@PA.GOV. You must include your name, your SSN, and your mailing address.  You should state that you are appealing any overpayments associated with your social security number and that you never received notice of the overpayments. 

Then, you should seek assistance from your local legal services program.  You can find your local program here: https://palegalaid.net/legal-aid-providers-in-pa. You will need to explain to an Unemployment Referee that you were unaware of the overpayment and never received notice.  This can be very difficult, and we strongly recommend that you seek legal help before your Referee hearing.

However, if you previously received notice of the overpayment but did not take action, or you appealed and lost, there is nothing you can do to change the overpayment at this time.

I have a fault overpayment, how does that affect my current benefits?

If you have a fault overpayment, then the Department of Labor and Industry can “offset” (take) your entire regular benefit amount and apply it to the overpayment amount you owe to the government.  You can see the offsets on the UC website here after you log in and click “view additional payment history.”

The Department will continue to take your regular benefits until your overpayment principal is completely paid off.

That really stinks, should I not bother filing claims then?

While we agree it is inhumane for the Department to continue full overpayment collection during the pandemic, it is still worth it for you to file claims.  You might as well use this as an opportunity to pay down the debt.  If you do not file, the money does not go to anyone, it is just lost.

I have a non-fault overpayment, how does that affect my current benefits?

If you have a non-fault overpayment, then the Department of Labor and Industry can “offset” (take) ⅓ of your regular benefit amount and apply it to the overpayment amount you owe to the government.  You can see the offsets on the UC website here after you log in and click “view additional payment history.”

The Department will continue to take ⅓ of your regular benefits until your overpayment principal is completely paid off.

Will they also take my benefits to pay any interest or penalties?

The Department cannot take your benefits to pay interest and penalties, which only exist for fault overpayments, without your permission.  Once the principal has been paid back, you should start receiving your benefits.  However, there tends to be a delay on any account that has penalties and interest left, as the Department must manually release your benefits every time you file a claim.

What about the extra $600, will they take that?

The Department has said it will pay the $600 weekly PUC payment to claimants who have overpayments, fault or non-fault, but there have been technological problems in issuing the payments.  Some claimants have begun to receive them, but others are still waiting.  All claimants with overpayments should start to receive some of the $600 payments the week after Memorial Day, with “backpay” of the $600 following soon after.

I think my overpayment is too old for them to be taking my benefits, so why am I not receiving any money?

Overpayments for Pennsylvania unemployment compensation have a “Statute of Collections,” otherwise known as a time period during which the Department can take action against a claimant to recover the benefits.

If your fault overpayment was for benefits received before 2012, then there is a six year statute of collections.  These overpayments are all no longer within the statute of collections.  If your fault overpayment is for benefits received after 2012, then there is a ten year statute of collections. For all non-fault overpayments, there is a three year statute of collections.

However, if you have an older fault overpayment that is outside the statute of collections, you may not be receiving your benefits because the Department has to manually release them as long as the overpayment still exists.  You should email uchelp@pa.gov and request they release your benefits, or contact your local state representative.

I was told I am serving penalty weeks, what does that mean?

Some people with fault overpayments were also assessed “penalty weeks” as additional punishment.  A penalty week is a “dead” week you have to “serve” before you can receive benefits.  If you have penalty weeks, you will not serve them until the Department has taken enough benefits to repay your overpayment.  But after that, you will need to serve the weeks before you receive any more benefits.

For example, if you have 10 penalty weeks, you will need to file 5 biweekly claims (equaling 10 benefit weeks) and receive $0 for each week before you are eligible again.  You should continue filing for benefits so you can eliminate the penalty weeks on your account.  

Can I get the $600 while serving penalty weeks?

No, because you are not eligible for any regular unemployment during those weeks, you are also not eligible for the $600 PUC payments through regular UC.

However...

So am I out of luck if I have penalty weeks?

No, there is actually another option.  According to the guidance from the federal Department of Labor, any worker who is disqualified from receiving regular unemployment benefits is eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) as long as their current unemployment is due to Covid19.  Therefore, almost all claimants who are serving UC penalty weeks are currently eligible for PUA (and the extra $600 weekly payments through PUA).

However, the PUA application was not set up correctly to accept claims from workers in this situation, and they are (mostly) not able to complete the application before being kicked out due to a current UC claim (or the visible W2 wages in the system).  We have made the Department aware of the problem and will provide updates as soon as we know claimants with penalty weeks can file for PUA.  Even if a claimant finishes serving their penalty weeks and is back on regular UC, they should still be able to file for PUA to get backpay for the weeks in which they were disqualified from regular UC.

Cool, so if I am losing all my regular benefits because of a fault overpayment, can I also apply for PUA?

No.  If your benefits are being offset, you are not eligible for PUA.  You are eligible for UC and are “receiving” benefits, they are just going towards repaying the overpayment.