Code of Maine Rules
12 - Labor
12 172 - Maine Unemployment Insurance Commission
Chapter 26 - Waivers
12 DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
172 MAINE UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE COMMISSION
Chapter 26: WAIVERS
Requests for Waiver of Repayment of Erroneously Paid Benefits. Whenever a decision of the commission or the Division of Administrative Hearings or a deputy establishes that amounts have been erroneously paid to a claimant, such decision shall include a notice to the claimant of his or her right to request waiver of repayment of the erroneously paid benefits. Requests for such waiver shall be made to the commission on forms prescribed by the commission. A decision on the request shall be made in accordance with 26 M.R.S.A. section 1051(5) and this chapter.
For purposes of this subsection and of subsection 5 of section 1051 of the Employment Security Law, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
A. "Amounts erroneously paid" means benefit payments made to a claimant to which, as a result of a later determination, reconsidered determination, redetermination, or decision by a deputy, the Division of Administrative Hearings, the commission, or a court, the claimant was not eligible or qualified for benefits.
B. "Without fault on his part" means that the claimant, in applying for benefits, made no misrepresentations or omissions as to any information used to determine his or her eligibility or qualification for benefits. Acceptance of a payment which the claimant knew, or could have been expected to know, was incorrect will constitute fault on the claimant's part. In determining whether a claimant is at fault, the commission shall consider all pertinent circumstances, including the claimant's age and intelligence as well as any physical, mental, educational, or linguistic limitations (including any lack of facility with the English language).
C. "Against equity and good conscience" and "defeat the purpose of benefits otherwise authorized" shall be determined in the discretion of the commission and shall require consideration of the totality of the circumstances surrounding the erroneously paid amounts as well as the claimant's personal circumstances. Factors to be considered shall include, but are not limited to the following:
1. The claimant's general health and earning capacity;
2. Whether other individuals depend or rely upon the claimant for support and sustenance;
3. The claimant's employment status at the time of the request;
4. The claimant's current family income and reasonable expenses;
5. The claimant's assets, liquid and otherwise. Certain assets, such as a home, a car, basic household furnishings and other basic necessities will be excluded from consideration ;
6. The existing long and short-term debts of the claimant and his or her family;
7. Any extraordinary medical or other expenses of the claimant and his or her family;
8. Whether the claimant has received unemployment benefits as a windfall, for example, where a back-pay award is later received;
9. The notice, if any, and the clarity of such notice provided by the bureau to the claimant of the possibility of a later determination of erroneously paid amounts. This factor is intended to ensure that adequate notice be given, not to penalize a claimant for using unemployment benefits when they are received. For example, the Commission would consider the fact that adequate notice was not provided in determining to grant a waiver but would not deny a waiver solely because the claimant relied on the receipt of benefits with notice that to do so might result in an overpayment that must be repaid in the future.
3. Interested Parties.
The claimant requesting waiver of repayment of amounts erroneously paid shall be the only interested party to the waiver determination before the commission.
A claimant may request a waiver under this subsection, in writing, after the decision establishing or affirming amounts erroneously paid has become final. Upon such written request, the commission shall furnish to the claimant a form to be completed with the claimant's personal, employment, and financial information. Such form shall be completed and returned to the commission within 14 (fourteen) days after it was sent to the claimant at the address provided by the claimant in the written request for waiver. This period may be extended for an additional 30 (thirty) days for good cause. Failure to return the completed form shall result in a commission decision denying the waiver request.
The commission, in its discretion, may conduct a hearing at which additional information in support of the waiver request may be presented.
The commission, after considering the claimant's request for waiver, shall issue a written decision setting forth the reasons for its decision which shall be sent to the claimant or to the claimant's representative of record. The commission's decision shall be one of the following alternatives:
A. Approve waiver of repayment of the entire amount erroneously paid;
B. Approve waiver of a specified portion of the erroneously paid amount, with the balance not so waived to be collected under one of the following remaining alternatives; or
C. Deny waiver of all or part of the repayment, and require repayment via:
1. Deduction of future benefits payments to the claimant in the amount specified in section 1051 of the Employment Security Law; or
2. Other methods of collection available to the commissioner as set forth in subsections 6 and 8 of section 1051 of the Employment Security Law.
7. Future Benefit Deductions.
A. The Commission, in accordance with 26 M.R.S.A. section 1051(5) and Chapter 26(6)(C)(1) above may determine, upon a claimant's request for a waiver, that collection of an erroneous payment of benefits may be by offset of future benefits. Such a determination will prevent further collection of the overpayment under 26 M.R.S.A. section 1051(6) and 36 M.R.S.A. Chapter 831 relating to income tax setoffs. It will not, however, prevent further collection under 26 M.R.S.A. section 1051(8) relating to the setoff of lottery winnings.
B. Pursuant to 26 M.R.S.A. section 1051(5), the Commission authorizes the Commissioner or his or her designees to withhold from future benefits amounts erroneously paid to a claimant as unemployment benefits in accordance with the following procedures:
1. Final Agency Action. No recovery may be attempted under this delegation of authority until the determination of the erroneous payment is final as to fact and law.
2. Cessation of Withholding of Benefits Pending Waiver Applications. Upon a claimant's filing of a written request for the waiver of repayment of amounts erroneously paid to the claimant as unemployment benefits, withholding from the claimant's benefits must cease as of the date of the filing of the waiver application pending the Commission's decision on the application and the expiration of all appeal rights from that decision.
3. Limitation on Recovery. Deduction from benefits that may be or become payable under this delegation of authority shall be limited to the amount specified in the Employment Security Law of any weekly benefit payment otherwise due the claimant. This delegation of authority does not affect deductions, recoveries or repayments under section 1051(4) of the Law, which covers nondisclosure or misrepresentation to receive benefits.
4. Notice to Claimant. No recovery may be attempted under this delegation of authority until the claimant has been notified of the opportunity to apply for a waiver of repayment under section 1051(5) of the Law.
STATUTORY AUTHORITY: 26 MRSA § 1082(2)
May 30, 2000
August 29, 2001 - Sec. 2(C)(7)