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A06666 Summary:

BILL NOA06666
 
SAME ASSAME AS S06169
 
SPONSORJoyner
 
COSPNSRMitaynes, Englebright
 
MLTSPNSR
 
Add §594-a, rpld §597 sub 4, Lab L
 
Provides that any claimant who has received certain unemployment benefits to which they were not entitled shall not be held liable for the amounts overpaid provided certain conditions exist.
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A06666 Memo:

NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION
submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
 
BILL NUMBER: A6666
 
SPONSOR: Joyner
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the labor law, in relation to the recovery of overpay- ments of unemployment benefits; and to repeal certain provisions of such law relating thereto   PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: The purpose of this bill is to require the Commissioner of Labor to waive certain overpayments of unemployment benefits that have occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to certain overpayments going forward.   SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section one of the bill would establish that a claimant shall not be held liable for overpayments of state or federal unemployment benefits, as permitted under federal law, provided that the overpayment was not due to fraud or fault on the part of the claimant and the recovery of such overpayment would be against equity and good conscience. The Commissioner of Labor would also be required to notify the claimant when an overpayment has occurred and inform the claimant of his or her right to request a waiver. Upon any denial of a waiver request, the Commis- sioner would also be required to notify the claimant of his or her right to request an adjustment to the repayment schedule. Section two of the bill would repeal subdivision 4 of section 597 of the Labor Law which sets forth the current limits for overpayments of bene- fits. Section three of the bill would establish the effective date.   DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ORIGINAL AND AMENDED VERSION (IF APPLICABLE): N/A   JUSTIFICATION: Overpayments of unemployment insurance benefits have become a signif- icant problem for both claimants and state unemployment agencies throughout the country in the wake of major job losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, New York paid out approximately $70 billion in unemployment benefits in 2020 including roughly $115 million in overpayments, while other states across the country paid a combined $2.9 billion in overpayments. To address these concerns, the federal government has allowed states to waive repayments of benefits, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits, that are found to be without fault on the part of the claimant and when such repayment would be contrary to equity and good conscience. Under current New York State law, state unemployment benefits which are later determined to have been overpaid cannot be recovered from the claimant as long as the claimant received the benefits in good faith, did not make a false statement or representation, and did not willfully conceal any pertinent fact in connection with his or her claim. However, despite these requirements, data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that as of March 1, 2021, the State has not granted any waivers for overpayments throughout the duration of the pandemic and yet has continued to recover a total of $93.4 million in overpaid benefits during 2020. The enormous rise in unemployment claims during the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the ongoing issues with the New York State unem- ployment system and the overpayment of benefits. Amid the confusion of businesses closing, people losing their jobs, and navigating the outdated and complex UI system, it is reasonable to understand how some individuals might have made honest mistakes and unintentional errors on their unemployment applications, with no intent to defraud the system. And yet, as our economy moves forward to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, many of these claimants are now being asked to pay back debts and penalties that they never knew had incurred in the first place. To address these inequities, this bill would allow claimants that have been overpaid benefits to which they were not entitled during the COVID-19 pandemic to apply for a waiver to have these overpayments forgiven. Going forward, claimants would also not be held liable for overpayments of state or federal unemployment benefits, as permitted under federal law, provided that the overpayment was not due to fraud or fault on the part of the claimant and the recovery of such overpayment would be against equity and good conscience.   PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New bill.   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: To be determined.   EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately and shall be deemed to have been in full force and effect on and after March 9, 2020.
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