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Rubio, Duckworth, Durbin Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Fix Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Overpayment Issue

Dec 18, 2020 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced bipartisan legislation that would help fix an error that caused individuals receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) to forcibly repay, while potentially unemployed, overpayments they received unknowingly. The Relief for Working Families Act would provide states discretion to waive PUA overpayments for individuals who acted in good faith and played no role in securing surplus benefits. U.S. Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) introduced companion legislation in the House.
“American families are struggling with lost jobs, home schooling, and more amid a global pandemic, and the last thing they need is to find out they owe money to their state because of a bureaucratic error,” Rubio said. “This legislation gives states the necessary flexibility to ensure individuals will not be forced to repay unemployment overpayments that are not their fault. It will be one less worry for hardworking families during these uncertain times.”
“Hardworking Americans already struggling during this pandemic shouldn’t be forced to pay for a bureaucratic error they had nothing to do with,” Duckworth said. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation that will ensure working families don’t bear this additional burden of financial distress and states have the tools and flexibility they need to remedy this problem for thousands of Americans across the country.
“No one should have to pay back thousands of dollars they thought they were getting in good faith,” Durbin said. “Our bill gives States flexibility to provide relief to families that are in need and fixes this error for countless Americans across the country.”
Under current law, state unemployment offices are not provided hardship waivers for PUA benefits, despite having such authority for the other major unemployment insurance programs included in the CARES Act. The new legislation introduced today would provide states the flexibility they need to handle PUA overpayments within their own state unemployment offices.