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Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 20226
Experience:  Licensed Attorney with 29 yrs. exp in Employment Law
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I filed for unemployment in 2009-2010 do to an unexpected job

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I filed for unemployment in 2009-2010 do to an unexpected job loss. I received benefits for a year in a half. I accepted a part time job to help pay the bills and to keep me from becoming depressed. My pay was significantly reduced which caused us to move into an apartment, sell what we could sell and conserve as much as we possibly could. It was a very difficult time for my entire family.

I worked this part time job that made I believe $8/hour and collected my unemployment. We were struggling to stay above water. The job I was let go from made close to $80,000/year. You can imagine how this changed my family's life. My wife worked as much as possible and I continued to work and look for a job everyday. I haven't collected a penny from unemployment since June 2010 it is now October 2013. Unemployment just sent me a letter that says I was overpaid in 2009 and I owe the total amount they paid me of $13,000 because I committed fraud by not reporting my total earnings from this part time $8/hour job. They said I didn't report enough??? Does this sound like something they do on a regular basis? Can they wait 3 1/2 years to tell me? I have never received anything until now that there was even a problem or that I reported something incorrectly. I have no idea exactly what I reported back in 2009/2010. I know I reported what I thought was correct. I claimed the amount on my taxes. I can't afford to pay them $13,000. I am working, but it is a business I started up and it doesn't make enough to pay this. My wife and I work our tails off just to make ends meet and to assist with my daughters college. This would be a financial hardship of the worst kind. We tried so hard to get back on our feet. We did everything we could to not file bankruptcy and paid our bills. We successfully accomplished something that looked impossible. We never took advantage, we tried every single day and now they want all of their money back. We weren't loser's just staying home and taking advantage of the system. We needed help in a very difficult time of ours lives. What are our options at this point? I requested an appeal and asked them to send documentation so I can see what they are even talking about. I have nothing except my taxes that show what they paid me and what I claimed. Please let me know what you think would help us plead our case when this appeal is addressed. They said it would take 5-7 weeks to receive any documentation. Thank you. Joe
Hello Joe,

Thank you for the information and your question. Although I understand how it can be a shock to receive and demand like this 3 or more years after the fact, it is not unusual. What happens is that there are computer programs and investigators in the fraud section and compare claims information submitted by a claimant with tax records. So, that is often why there is a significant delay. There is no statute of limitations issue with this length of delay, although if you are directed to pay it back after your appeal you could use the delay as part of your request for a waiver.

Hopefully, once you receive the hearing file that contains the documentation of what the State used to say that you underreported your earnings, you can put together your appeal plan. If, for example, you hadn't reported the part-time job at all, then that would really present a problem for you and you would be virtually guaranteed that the Hearing Officer would uphold the complete repayment of all benefits based on fraud. If the Hearing Officer finds fraud, then they have the right, under the law, to order all benefits be repaid.

On the other hand, if there was just a misstatement of the dates for a particular set of earnings, then that would generally not be considered intentional fraud and more often than not the hearing officer would not order repayment, or at worst, order repayment of that week (or whatever time period it was.) So, it is very fact specific.

If you would like to read some summaries of prior decisions by the TWC on overpayment cases, you can see that information at:
If the Hearing Officer finds that you did receive an overpayment, but that it was through no fault of your own, then you would probably have success with requesting a waiver of the repayment of those benefits.

Please let me know if you have any follow up questions. I would be glad to assist you further if I can.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I wish I would have just stayed home and not worked at all at this point. An $8/hour part time job that I thought would be of help to my family is now hurting us years later. I have no way to even start looking for what I reported because it is done online and I have no record. I have to wait weeks to even take a look at the discrepancy. There are so many people that feed off the system for years and years, I try to get help 1 time and it ends up becoming a mess. What do I do on my taxes since I claimed this as income in 2009 & 2010 if they don't approve my waiver?

I can certainly understand your frustration, but you will have a record of what you reported when you get the file of your case. Unfortunately, I am not a tax attorney, so I can't really discuss the tax ramifications, but at this point, you might not want to focus on that eventuality since you don't know if you will even be found to have been overpaid, and if so, how much.
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