TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- — People who received overpayments in unemployment benefits from the state during most of last year and this year will no longer have to worry about being sent to a collection agency.
In a letter to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) on Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis directed DEO Secretary Dane Eagle to submit a request to the state’s Chief Financial Officer “to indefinitely defer all referrals to collections agencies for all non-fraudulent payments incurred during the pandemic” to help Floridians avoid further setbacks to their personal economic recoveries.
This includes all overpayments for state unemployment benefits owed for weeks beginning March 1, 2020, through Sept. 4, 2021.
The direction from the governor comes just days after DEO told the I-Team it was extending the suspicion of debt referrals from the original deadline of the end of October 2021 to January 2023.
In his letter, Governor DeSantis wrote that in an effort to get out-of-work Floridians their unemployment benefits, “we focused on reducing red tape to speed up that process.”
Because of this, unemployment benefits were paid out that shouldn’t have been.
To be clear, DeSantis’ call for the state to defer all referrals to collections agencies do not include overpayments related to fraud.
Dozens of people have contacted ABC Action News asking what they are supposed to do with unemployment money they were overpaid. Some did not realize they were overpaid. Others say the unemployment benefits they received were legitimate and dispute that they were overpaid at all.
DEO provided the following information related to federal overpayments:
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 action on their claims 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 [r20.rs6.net] - Information and resources on overpayments
- Reemployment Assistance Overpayments Guide [r20.rs6.net] for applying for an overpayment waiver
- Informational Flyers [r20.rs6.net] with information on overpayments and overpayment waivers
- FloridaJobs.org/RAHelpCenter [r20.rs6.net] - Unemployment Help Center self-service paths for notice of disqualification, overpayment and appeals assistance
For more information about unemployment overpayments from DEO, click here [r20.rs6.net].