FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Unemployment insurance claimants who were overpaid benefits during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 can now apply for a waiver that may clear them from having to repay those funds.
On Friday, the Kentucky Office of Unemployment Insurance mailed Notice of Determination letters to approximately 14,000 people who were identified as having been overpaid between Jan. 27 and Dec. 31, 2020. Those letters inform claimants how much they were overpaid and provide instructions on how to apply for the waiver; either online, which will help speed up the process, or by completing an enclosed form.
Gov. Andy Beshear said that early in the pandemic the federal government asked state unemployment offices to get benefit payments in the hands of millions of people as quickly as possible. Weeks later, as guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor changed, some people who received benefits were deemed ineligible and asked to repay those funds.
“I have fought for this waiver because it is the right thing to do,” the Governor said. “Without it, a lot of Kentuckians would have received collection notices during a pandemic, and in many cases the money they received has already been spent, creating an additional hardship for folks in the toughest of times.”
Claimants have 30 days from the date postmarked on the letter to apply for the waiver, and must attest that the overpayment was the result of no fault of their own and that recovery of the funds would be contrary to equity and good conscience.
The Continued Assistance Act amended federal law to allow states to waive non-fraudulent unemployment insurance overpayments during the pandemic late last year, but Kentucky was among a handful of states that required legislative action in order to be able to provide that relief.
On March 12, the Governor signed legislation that allows the waiver after the Kentucky General Assembly passed legislation (Senate Bill 7) during its regular session.
The state has paid out more than $6 billion in total unemployment benefits during the pandemic. An unprecedented number of unemployment insurance claims, more than 2.2 million, have been filed in Kentucky since March 2020.