What is an overpayment?

Overpayments can result from claimants not reporting earnings. The Division of Employment Security conducts a Benefit Payment Control program to detect and prevent improper payment (overpayment) of benefits. The primary means of detecting overpayments are cross-matches with new-hire data and quarterly wages reported for claimants by employers. When a match is made, the DES sends an Audit and Investigation form to the employer to confirm whether or not benefits were overpaid.

When the DES determines a claimant for unemployment benefits failed to report earnings, the claimant will be required to repay those benefits. Some overpayments are the result of honest mistakes. However, if the claimant committed fraud in obtaining benefits, he/she can be assessed an additional monetary penalty, as well as possibly having his/her benefit rights canceled and being arrested, fined, and imprisoned.

If a claimant has received unemployment benefits and later receives legally required back pay for the same period, an overpayment results. If an overpayment is established under these circumstances, the employer is required to withhold the amount of the overpayment from the back pay. This amount then is paid to the DES by the employer. The employer should call the DES to find out the amount of the overpayment.

Example: A claimant is receiving benefits for the first three weeks of January 2009. A court determines that due to an existing contract, the claimant must receive his/her regular pay for those three weeks. The employer contacts the DES who determines what was paid out in unemployment benefits and the employer will withhold those amounts from the back pay to reimburse the DES for the overpayment as the claimant is not entitled to those benefits after the fact.

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