How to Appeal an Unemployment Overpayment

If your state unemployment agency sends you an overpayment notice, it means it believes you received unemployment benefits for which you were not entitled. The alleged overpayments may have occurred if the unemployment agency believes you didn't report part-time earnings while collecting benefits, or went back to work and continued to collect benefits after starting a full-time job. Although each state's laws and procedures for appealing overpayment differ, most unemployment departments require you to prove you were entitled to the benefits or that you didn't receive the overpayment due to fraudulent activity on your part.

Step 1

Respond to the notice of overpayment by the deadline listed on the notice. All states only allow appeals within a window following the time you receive the notice, usually 15 to 30 days after the unemployment department issues the notice.

Step 2

Submit a notice of appeal. Each state has its own process for starting the appeals process, but most require you to notify the unemployment department in writing of your appeal. If you must provide a reason for wanting the appeal, write, "I don't agree with the claim" on the appeals form.

Step 3

Collect evidence to support your claim. Bank records that detail deposit records that prove you didn't deposit funds into your account that you didn't report on a weekly claim. If you've returned to work, provide check stubs and other documentation—such as dated copies of orientation paperwork or a letter from your boss stating the date you began work. If possible, have your boss sign the letter in the presence of a notary to add credibility to your claim.

Step 4

Collect old copies of weekly claims or records of your online submissions in which you documented your earnings and job hunt.

Step 5

Present your evidence to the administrative law judge in charge of unemployment appeals at the date and time the unemployment department selected. If you can prove you didn't receive any funds for which you didn't qualify, your appeal will be honored. If you received funds for which you weren't entitled, even if it was because of the unemployment department's error, your state law may require you to return them. Some states allow beneficiaries to keep overpayments if they can prove the error was the department's and returning funds will impose an economic hardship upon them.

Tip

If you receive unemployment benefits by mistake, contact the unemployment office immediately. You may need to return the funds, although you’ll avoid an overpayment notice in the future.

Warning

If you fraudulently submitted incorrect information, such as not reporting earnings or claiming unemployment for a week in which you had a job, your appeal isn’t likely to be approved by an administrative law judge.

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