We have received many calls in the past two months about notices from the Alabama State Department of Labor requiring repayment of pandemic unemployment benefits. People applied in good faith with the information available for benefits because they suffered a job loss due to COVID. They received the much-needed assistance and were able to stay in their homes and feed their families. Now that the Alabama State Department of Labor has had time to catch up and review applications, they have discovered overpayment instances. The question repeatedly asked is: what do I do if I received a notice?
The U.S. Department of Labor just released guidance on May 5, 2021 to the states regarding overpayment of unemployment benefits. They acknowledge the program was a little chaotic and that mistakes were made. Everyone was trying to do their best under extraordinary circumstances. The DOL is recommending offering waivers for overpayment when there is no intentional fault on the recipient’s end. Additionally, they are recommending states return overpayment collections if the individual is currently eligible under the waiver even if the state collected before the guidance. The DOL is offering to help states by providing greater flexibility.
Fraudulent claims are not eligible, and states must assess monetary penalties in the repayment of those benefits. Criminal prosecution is also an available option.
In Alabama, there is a waiver available for overpayment. You must complete a questionnaire and make a written request to the Director of the State’s unemployment program at the Alabama State Department of Labor. You may request the questionnaire by contacting the following:
Alabama Department of Labor
649 Monroe Street, Room 3430
Montgomery, AL 36131 – 4200
Phone: (334) 956-4000
Fax: (334) 956-4024
452 Government Street, Suite E
Mobile, Alabama 36602