Unemployment Benefit Overpayments & Waivers

Overpayment Waivers for Certain Federal Programs (FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUC, or LWA)

General Overpayment Information

What is an overpayment?

An overpayment may occur when a claimant is paid unemployment benefits and is later found to not be eligible for those benefits.

Common reasons for an overpayment include:

  • A claimant does not report wages or underreports wages when filing a weekly claim, and later information is received with the corrected wages.
  • As a result of an eligibility issue, such as when an employer challenges an employee's claim because the claimant refused an offer of work and, after the fact-finding investigation, the department concludes no benefits were payable.
  • An adjustment is made to a claim that changes the amount of benefits due to the claimant for specific weeks.

When is a claimant required to repay an overpayment?

When a claimant is at fault for an overpayment of unemployment benefits, the claimant must repay the overpaid benefits.

When an employer alone is at fault or the department is solely at fault, the claimant will not be required to repay the overpaid benefits.

What does it mean to be "at fault" for an overpayment?

A claimant may be at fault for an overpayment if they provide information that they knew, or reasonably should have known, to be inaccurate or incomplete on an initial or weekly claim. A finding that the claimant was at fault does not necessarily mean that the claimant committed fraud or concealment. A claimant who is found to be at fault is required to repay overpaid benefits and is not eligible for an overpayment waiver.

Repayment of Overpaid Benefits

How do I pay back an overpayment?

If you are paid more unemployment benefits than you are eligible to receive for any week, you will be notified in writing that you have been overpaid. The amount of the overpayment will be automatically deducted from any later unemployment payments that are payable to you.

If no later benefits are payable to you or there is still an outstanding overpayment amount after later benefit payments are withheld, you will be responsible to repay the balance of the overpayment.

Payments can be made by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) from a checking or savings account, by credit or debit card, or by mailing in a check or money order. DWD accepts electronic payments by phone only, using a credit or debit card (Visa, Discover, or Mastercard, and a 1% service fee applies) or EFT (no cost).

Checks and money orders must be made payable to Unemployment Insurance and mailed to:

Unemployment Insurance Division
P.O. Box 7888
Madison, WI 53707

More information on repayment by credit or debit card can be found at: https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/overpayments/card

I am not able to pay back the full amount of an overpayment right now. Do I need to pay it back within a certain timeframe?

If you are unable to pay the full amount requested, please contact us at (608) 266-9701 Monday through Friday 7:45 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. to discuss installment payment plan options that may be available to you.

If I have an overpayment and I am now back to work, will my wages be garnished to pay back my overpayment?

If you fail to setup an acceptable payment plan, or if you default on a payment plan, the department can garnish a portion of your wages to recover an overpayment.

Will interest start to accrue on my overpayment if I am unable to pay it immediately?

No. Benefit overpayments do not accrue interest. However, collection costs can accrue if the department must pursue certain collection actions to recover the debt, such as certified mail costs for collection notices.

Special Federal COVID-19 Relief Programs Waiver

What is an overpayment waiver and who is eligible?

An overpayment waiver may be issued by the department in situations where a claimant received an overpayment not due to the fault of the claimant, and, for overpayments of certain federal programs, requiring repayment would be contrary to equity and good conscience.

A claimant may be eligible for a waiver if they have received a determination that included an overpayment of benefits from one or more of the applicable federal programs (FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUC, or LWA) and it was determined the claimant was not at fault for creating the overpayment. Overpaid benefits paid from Regular UI and Extended Benefits (EB) may be waived under state statute, s. 108.22(8)(c), Stats., which is not discussed here.

If a claimant's overpayments are from special federal COVID-19 relief programs (FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUC, and/or LWA) and other unemployment programs (other programs such as Regular UI, EB, or DUA), only the overpayments from the applicable federal programs can be waived. If an overpayment waiver request is approved, the claimant will still be required to repay overpaid benefits received from the non-eligible programs, unless waived under a different law.

What does "contrary to equity and good conscience" mean?

Requiring repayment of an overpayment will be considered "contrary to equity and good conscience" if:

  • It would cause financial hardship to the individual; or
  • Regardless of the individual's financial circumstances, the individual can show that, based on the overpayment or notice that a benefit payment would be made, the individual has:
    • Relinquished a valuable right, or
    • Changed positions for the worse; or
  • Recovery could be considered unconscionable under the circumstances.

Will I be notified if I am eligible for an overpayment waiver?

Yes. Claimants who are eligible to apply for an overpayment waiver will receive a message in their Claimant Portal Message Center with a link to apply for the waiver. Claimants who have previously informed UI that they are unable to access the internet will be mailed the Overpayment Waiver Request form. Claimants must complete the waiver request form within 14 days of the date they are notified of their eligibility to apply.

Upon completed review, claimants will receive an eligibility determination by mail notifying them that their Overpayment Waiver Request was either approved or denied. Waiver request decisions can also be viewed on the Determinations Page in the Claimant Portal. Overpayment waiver request decisions are appealable.

If you believe you should have been eligible for an overpayment waiver but did not receive a message in your Claimant Portal Message Center nor by mail, you may request a review of your claim by calling the UI Claimant Assistance Line at (414) 435-7069 or (844) 910-3661. Before calling, please refer to your overpayment determination notice. If the determination states that the overpayment is, in whole or in part, due to you providing inaccurate or incomplete information, you will not be eligible for a waiver because you have been determined to be in fault, at least in part, for the overpayment. Please note: If you disagree with the decision that you were at fault for the overpayment, you should file an appeal of the overpayment decision to resolve that issue first, rather than requesting an overpayment waiver. If your appeal of the fault determination is in your favor, you may become eligible for a waiver.

Will I be eligible to apply for an overpayment waiver even if I have already repaid the overpayment?

Yes. A claimant may be eligible to apply for a waiver if they have received a determination that included an overpayment of benefits from one or more of the special federal COVID-19 relief programs (FPUC, PUA, PEUC, MEUC, or LWA) and it was determined the claimant was not at fault for creating the overpayment. This is this case whether or not the claimant has already repaid the overpayment. Claimants approved for an overpayment waiver will be refunded any payments made toward their eligible overpayment.

Appealing a Determination

How do I appeal an overpayment?

The process to appeal a decision that includes an overpayment, including the determination of fault, is the same as for other types of UI determinations. To appeal, you can file online or write to the department stating that you are appealing a determination. If you are unable to complete an appeal request online, you must mail or fax your appeal to:

UI Hearing Office
P.O. Box 7975
Madison, WI 53707

Fax: (608) 327-6498

To be timely, your appeal must be received or postmarked by the last appeal date shown on the front of the determination. If you are appealing more than one determination, you must file a separate appeal for each determination.

More information on appealing UI determinations can be found at: https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uibola/appeal.htm.

How do I appeal a denied overpayment waiver request?

The process to appeal a decision that denies an overpayment waiver request is the same as for other types of UI determinations. To appeal, you can file online or write to the department stating that you are appealing a determination. If you are unable to complete an appeal request online, you must mail or fax your appeal to:

UI Hearing Office
P.O. Box 7975
Madison, WI 53707

Fax: (608) 327-6498

To be timely, your appeal must be received or postmarked by the last appeal date shown on the front of the determination. If you are appealing more than one determination, you must file a separate appeal for each determination.

More information on appealing UI determinations can be found at: https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uibola/appeal.htm.