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  • What would you do if you realized the Florida Unemployment Insurance program has mistakenly overpaid you $2,000? It would probably be tempting to keep quiet and pretend nothing happened. After all, if you are unemployed you probably need the money, right? This article looks into the Florida laws behind unemployment overpayments. We will look at the relevant legislation and explain the consequences of not paying (you might be surprised) as well as certain options on how and when to repay.

    The key legislation on overpayment of unemployment benefits and their repayment is view 443.071 under the Penalties section of the Florida Unemployment Compensation law

    1) Any person who makes a false statement or representation, knowing it to be false, or knowingly fails to disclose a material fact to obtain or increase any benefits or other payment under this chapter or under an employment security law of any other state, of the Federal Government, or of a foreign government, either for herself or himself or for any other person, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. Each false statement or representation or failure to disclose a material fact constitutes a separate offense.

    443.101 Disqualification for benefits. —

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    (6) For a period not to exceed 1 year from the date of the discovery by the Agency for Workforce Innovation of the making of any false or fraudulent representation for the purpose of obtaining benefits contrary to this chapter, constituting a violation under s. 443.071. This disqualification may be appealed in the same manner as any other disqualification imposed under this section. A conviction by any court of competent jurisdiction in this state of the offense prohibited or punished by s. 443.071 is conclusive upon the appeals referee and the commission of the making of the false or fraudulent representation for which disqualification is imposed under this section.

    So, what can happen if you do not repay an overpayment in unemployment benefits?

    There are three main scenarios.

    1) If you were overpaid because you lied or misled the Florida Unemployment Insurance program, you could be guilty of a third degree felony. In this case the overpayment is treated as a fraud case and prosecuted by the state attorney.

    2) If you were overpaid due to no fault of your own, the Unemployment Insurance program my garnish the overpayment from future wages.

    3) Alternatively, the overpayment may be deducted from any pending or future unemployment benefits. It is up to the Florida Unemployment Insurance program which measures to take.

    Of course, another option is to repay the overpayments voluntarily. You can do this by sending a money order to

    Benefit Payment Control
    P.O. Drawer 5050
    Tallahassee, FL 32314-5050

    The Florida Unemployment Insurance program recommends you pay at least 10 percent of your debt every month. However, you can always contact the Florida Agency for Work Innovation with any questions.

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