Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: Eligibility and Overpayments
By Elizabeth S. Carmona, Esq.
On March 27, 2020, the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act of 2020 (“CARES Act”). Section 2102 of the CARES Act created the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program (“PUA”), which allows benefits to be paid to “covered individuals.” “Covered individuals” are those who are ineligible to receive regular unemployment compensation and who are unemployed, partially unemployed, unable to work or unavailable for work due to one of the eleven Covid-19-related reasons set forth in Section 2102(a)(3)(A)(ii) of the CARES Act. Qualifying Covid-19-related reasons include, without limitation, a Covid-19 diagnosis of either the individual or a household member, a business closure directly caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, long-term health complications caused by a Covid-19 diagnosis that renders the individual objectively unable to perform his or her essential job functions or a Covid-19-related school or facility closure that renders an individual with primary caregiving responsibility unable to work away from home.
If the Employment Security Division (“ESD”) determines after issuing payment that an individual is disqualified from receiving benefits or otherwise received excess PUA benefits, a Notification of Overpayment will be posted on the individual’s online PUA portal. If the individual disagrees with the determination, they should appeal both the overpayment and the underlying determination that caused the overpayment. However, if the overpayment determination is legally correct, the individual can arrange to repay the amount owed or, in some cases, request a waiver of the overpayment debt.
PUA overpayments are eligible for waiver consideration if the State determines that the overpayment was without fault on the part of the individual and that repayment would be contrary to equity and good conscience. Therefore, if the corresponding disqualification is deemed non-fraudulent and if the individual is financially unable to repay the full overpayment amount, they are entitled to submit an overpayment waiver request on their online PUA portal. The individual will be tasked with answering financial questions regarding their income and debts and they are also encouraged to attach any and all supporting documentation to the overpayment waiver request that further demonstrates financial hardship. The timeline of ESD’s review is contingent on overall volume and document review and a decision will be posted on the online PUA portal.
If you are having problems with your PUA benefits, please visit www.nevadalegalservices.org to complete an online intake application or call the nearest Nevada Legal Services office to request assistance.
Adapted from an article originally published in the COMMUNIQUE, the official publication of the Clark County Bar Association (April 2023).