Overpaid unemployment benefits will be recouped regardless of fault or hardship. Thus, even where the overpayment resulted from errors or incompetence by the agency, and the claimant acted in all good faith, there is generally no provision whatever authorizing compromise or forgiveness.
Overpayments are generally collected in cash. Sometimes, it is necessary to set up installments. In the event a worker later qualifies for a new claim, the state agency generally will offset any alleged overpayments due from the claimant against the benefits payable on the new claim. From this it follows that it is clearly in the worker's best interest to file a claim if he owes the state money for overpayments, because even though he may not collect benefits, but he will reduce his debt to the state.
Overpayments may result from any of several circumstances:
- Wrong benefit amount. For instance, the state agency may just plain pay the claimant too high a weekly rate by miscalculating what he is entitled to.
- State agency incompetence. For instance, the state agency may continue to send two or three weekly checks to the claimant even after it has been notified that the claimant has returned to work.
- Misrepresentation. For instance, a claimant in a state where a dependant allowance is paid may claim that he has more dependents than he actually has.
- Non-disclosure. For instance, the state agency may have found out after payment that a claimant did not disclose that he has earnings from self-employment which would have been deducted from his benefits had they known earlier.
- Reversal. For instance, the state agency may have judged that the claimant was eligible for benefits, and may even pay those benefits for a period of many months, and later, perhaps as the result of an appeal, reverse its decision.
- Discontinued eligibility. For instance, a claimant in receipt of weekly benefits may fall ill for a period. During the period of illness, he is not able and available for work.
- Back pay. An unemployed claimant, after receiving benefits, may later be reinstated in his job and be awarded back pay. Now he must repay the benefits collected for the same period which the back pay applies to.