TALLAHASSEE – Under the direction of Governor Ron DeSantis, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) submitted a request to Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, Jimmy Patronis, to indefinitely defer all referrals to collection agencies for all non-fraudulent debts owed by claimants for state Reemployment Assistance benefits owed for weeks beginning March 1, 2020, through September 4, 2021. This request does not apply to fraudulent overpayments and DEO will continue to investigate fraudulent overpayments to ensure individuals and bad actors are held accountable for their fraudulent actions in accordance with the law.
A copy of Governor DeSantis’ letter to DEO Secretary Dane Eagle is available HERE.
“As Florida’s strong economic recovery continues under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, DEO is focused on encouraging Floridians to return to the workforce and helping employers attract job seekers to continue fueling the state’s economic growth,” said DEO Secretary Dane Eagle. “Today’s announcement affirms the Governor’s commitment to a compassionate and graceful approach to help Floridians elevate above avoidable setbacks in their personal economic recoveries following the pandemic. As part of this mission, DEO is also implementing several proactive measures to continue relieving the frustration and confusion being experienced by claimants regarding federal and state overpayment issues.”
Federal and state law requires DEO to issue a Notice of Disqualification that may have overpayments attached. However, DEO understands how confusing and burdensome these federal and state requirements may be following the economic hardship experienced by claimants throughout the pandemic. To ease the burden of overpayments on claimants, DEO:
· Requested to indefinitely defer all referrals to a collection agency for non-fraudulent debts owed to the state for weeks of unemployment beginning March 1, 2020 through September 4, 2021. DEO first requested the suspension of debt referrals on January 7, 2021, and was recently extended until January 2023.
· Announced the opportunity for claimants to apply for federal overpayment waivers on April 21, 2021. Claimants should still complete overpayment waivers as they become available to relieve federal overpayments created on their account.
· Announced numerous resources to assist claimants navigate this process, including their appeal rights. Visit FloridaJobs.org/Overpayments for additional resources.
The pandemic created financial obstacles for many claimants, which caused millions to file claims for Reemployment Assistance benefits. During the height of the pandemic, DEO’s number one priority was to ensure claimants received their benefits in a timely manner. Since day one, DEO has remained focused on reducing red tape to speed up that process. As a result, many claimants have received overpayments from the state.
Federal and state law requires DEO to issue a Notice of Disqualification that may have overpayments attached. An overpayment may be issued when a claimant is paid state or federal Reemployment Assistance benefits and they were not eligible to receive the benefits.
Claimants who received a prior Notice of Disqualification with an overpayment for any underlying state or federal Reemployment Assistance program (i.e., state Reemployment Assistance, Extended Benefits, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA), Short Time Compensation, or Trade Readjustment Allowance) will also soon receive an overpayment notice for the same weeks for the supplemental benefits paid for Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC), Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), or Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) benefits.
Claimants who have received federal Reemployment Assistance benefits may be eligible to receive an overpayment waiver for federal overpayments established on their claims. Previously, DEO announced the availability of an overpayment waiver for the PUA and PEUC programs in the CONNECT system on April 21, 2021. The overpayment waiver request form for MEUC, FPUC, and LWA programs will soon be available to claimants in their CONNECT account.
DEO encourages claimants to check their Reemployment Assistance account frequently and take actions on their claim when prompted. In some instances, a claimant may be required to complete additional forms or, at the claimant’s option, file an appeal to ineligible notices to reverse overpayments created on their account.
To assist claimants in navigating overpayments on their accounts, DEO has made the following resources available:
· FloridaJobs.org/Overpayments - with easy-to-understand information and resources on overpayments
· Reemployment Assistance Overpayments Guide for applying for an overpayment waiver
· Informational Flyers with helpful information on overpayments and overpayment waivers
· FloridaJobs.org/RAHelpCenter - Reemployment Assistance Help Center self-service paths for notice of disqualification, overpayment, and appeals assistance
For more information about Reemployment Assistance overpayments, click here.