If Unemployment Sent You An Overpayment Notice
The Colorado Division of Unemployment sent thousands of Notices of Determination and overpayment letters this month (September 2021), without warning or explanation, to people who had been given benefits for many months. Our clients who have tried, tried, tried and finally spoken successfully to an agent about their alleged overpayments have been told nothing can be done unless they file their appeal. Our office cannot help everyone who has called. But, consider whether the following language which we have used for clients fits your circumstances and if you might use it to start your appeal. Remember, you must file your appeal on time.
“Reasons I disagree with the September 16, 2021 Notice of Determination:
1) Contrary to the Notice of Determination, I responded to every request by the Division.
2) The Notice contains a spreadsheet documenting only $6,276 in alleged overpayments, but sets the total claimed overpaid at $17,782.
3) As recently as June 28, 2021 the division approved my eligibility through June 26, 2021, having considered the same questions by the Division and answers by me which the Division now says I failed to respond to. “
Or, if the issue is what your past earnings have been:
“I have repeatedly sent my earnings records, including tax returns, to the Division. I will provide copies to the hearing officer on appeal.”
And we often say:
“The Notice of Determination gives me insufficient information about the basis for the overpayment decision, and denies me the opportunity to adequately appeal.”
It appears to us that many of the overpayment letters result from confusion the Division caused when it was sending out requests for information to claimants. What it may have wanted to know, even though its requests were unclear, was, whether you are really trying to get back to work.
If your Notice, under the heading “Applicable Section of Law” cites the Colorado Employment Security Act 8-73-107(1)(c)(1), that law says in short that an individual must be able to work, and available to take work “deemed suitable” in order to receive regular unemployment. The federal law which gave self-employed individuals PUA says a self-employed individual who becomes unemployed as a direct result of COVID is entitled to benefits as long as they are working toward resuming self-employment, and have not refused without good cause to resume their self-employment. So, an appeal responding to the question why you are not working should always point out what has happened to your health, or in the industry you serve, which kept you from going back to work.
What you are trying to do with your appeal is preserve your right to have a hearing with an impartial hearing officer who, unlike so many agents for the Division of Unemployment, has the time and authority to hear your side of the story. You need not go into great detail, but you should respond directly and deny the Reasoning and Findings which is in the Notice of Determination.
Our firm is also recommending that people confronted with unemployment problems check out the Facebook group where fellow citizens share their experience and suggestions. https://www.facebook.com/groups/314797486157023/
The group is called Colorado Unemployment/PEUC/PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) Q&A
Disclaimer: This post is intended to offer general information, and is not specific legal advice for any reader.