VEC to begin collecting benefit overpayments July 1, even if it wasn’t your fault

Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 4:57 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Virginia Employment Commission will begin collecting overpayments it accidentally made during the pandemic starting July 1, even if the overpayment wasn’t the recipient’s fault.

NBC12 confirmed that VEC accidentally overpaid more than $814 million to Virginians across the state since the start of the pandemic in 2020. Thousands of people received notices saying they’ve been overpaid unemployment benefits, some owing hundreds to thousands of dollars.

But there’s good news. If you can’t afford to repay the VEC, you can apply for a waiver so you won’t owe back the money. Your waiver application will automatically be granted if the overpayments fell between March 2020 through June 2021. If the payments occurred after that, officials say you should still apply since you can still qualify for forgiveness.

“We have sent out over payment waiver applications to individuals who qualify for the overpayment that was due, no fault of their own. They were paid by the agency, and they shouldn’t have been paid that amount of money, but it wasn’t their fault,” said Carrie Roth, the new Commissioner of the VEC.

Roth said the agency had already forgiven $80 million in overpayments, receiving at least 33,000 waiver applications. Officials say the form should have been mailed to anyone who was allegedly overpaid. You’ll need to fill out some information on your current financial situation. If you receive multiple waivers, just return one. Officials say repeats may slow things up for your case. If your waiver is denied for some reason, you can appeal it within 30 days.

The VEC says it can refer those who do not have waivers to collections. The agency can ultimately take the money from you by holding your tax return or garnishing your paycheck. However, Roth says most likely, a VEC agent will contact you to set up a payment plan. She says collections is a last resort.

The VEC continues to work on fixing a slew of major issues that have slowed or deprived Virginians of benefits since the start of the pandemic, including not enough staff and glitches in a new computer system- all contributing to problems like the overpayments. However, the VEC has made progress by hiring more staff and largely reducing the backlog of cases.

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