When you receive unemployment compensation benefits, it is possible to receive funds for which you are not entitled – meaning the check you received is for more money than what you are supposed to get from the program. This generally happens one of two ways: fraud or mistake. If you receive funds in the incorrect amount, you must immediately contact the Pennsylvania Office of Unemployment Compensation.
Fraud committed against the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Department is an offense that can result in temporary or permanent loss of benefits and potentially criminal prosecution.
Generally, fraud constitutes an overt act with the attempt to deceive unemployment officials. However, it is important to be completely honest when applying for benefits in order to avoid accusations of fraud. Any omission or false statement made when applying for benefits can constitute fraud. This may come in the form of falsifying previous employment claims or failing to update the department regarding recently acquired employment. Additionally, withholding information that would be otherwise disqualifying for benefits may constitute fraud. For example, a person who is unable to work due to health conditions or incarceration is not eligible to obtain unemployment benefits. If such individuals applied for benefits and did not inform the department of their inability to work, the omission may be considered fraudulent.
If you are found to have committed unemployment compensation fraud, you may be penalized by losing a payment week or payments entirely.
A non-fault overpayment occurs when the overpayment is determined to be no fault of the claimant. As a result, the overpayment will be deducted from future payments so that the lump sum of benefits evens out. You also have the option to return the entire overpayment outright.
There are also some overpayments for which you have no obligation to return. These are called non-fault non-recoupable overpayments and are not due to misrepresentation or non-disclosure. While your future payments will not be deducted, voluntary repayment is also accepted.
The Department of Labor & Industry allows recipients of unemployment compensation to view payments online to ensure what you receive in benefits is correct.