Bill Text: VA HB2040 | 2021 | 1st Special Session | Prefiled

NOTE: There are more recent revisions of this legislation. Read Latest Draft
Bill Title: Unemployment compensation; continuation of benefits, repayment of overpayments.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 28-0)

Status: (Passed) 2021-04-07 - Governor: Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0539) [HB2040 Detail]

Download: Virginia-2021-HB2040-Prefiled.html
21102511D
HOUSE BILL NO. 2040
Offered January 13, 2021
Prefiled January 12, 2021
A BILL to amend and reenact §§60.2-528.1, 60.2-619, and 60.2-633 of the Code of Virginia, relating to unemployment compensation; failure to respond; continuation of benefits; repayment of overpayments.
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Patrons-- Hudson, Askew, Bagby, Helmer, Tran, Ayala, Bourne, Carr, Carter, Cole, J.G., Guzman, Herring, Hope, Hurst, Keam, Kory, Levine, McQuinn, Murphy, Plum, Price, Rasoul, Reid, Roem, Samirah, Simon, Simonds and Subramanyam; Senator: McClellan
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Referred to Committee on Labor and Commerce
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Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That §§60.2-528.1, 60.2-619, and 60.2-633 of the Code of Virginia are amended and reenacted as follows:

§60.2-528.1. Charging of benefits relating to certain overpayments; penalty for pattern of failure to respond to requests for information.

A. As used in this section, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Employer," with regard to the timeliness and adequacy of responses, includes an agent of the employer used by the employer to respond to the Commission on the employer's behalf; however, an employer's agent's failure to respond timely or adequately to requests for information with regard to claims involving the agent's other clients shall not be used in determining whether the employer has established a pattern of failing to respond timely or adequately to written requests for information.

"Erroneous payment" means a payment of benefits under this title made prior to a determination by the Commission that the claimant is not eligible or qualified for the benefits paid.

"Information relating to a claim" means information material to a determination or decision by the Commission relating to the payment of benefits under this title, including separation information and information required by the Commission for the establishment of a claim for compensation and information about wages, days, and hours worked.

"Review period" means the 48 consecutive calendar month period ending on the June 30 that precedes the Commission's next annual calculation of the employer's benefit ratio pursuant to subdivision A 1 a of § 60.2-530.

"Written request" includes a request sent electronically.

B. An employer's account shall not be relieved of charges relating to an erroneous payment if the Commission determines that:

1. The erroneous payment was made because the employer failed to respond timely or adequately to a written request by the Commission for information relating to the claim; and

2. The employer has established a pattern of failing to respond timely or adequately to written requests by the Commission for information relating to claims.

C. For purposes of this section, an employer's response to a written request by the Commission for information relating to a claim shall be deemed not to be:

1. "Adequate" if it fails to provide sufficient material facts to enable the Commission to make a correct determination regarding a claim for benefits; however, (i) a response shall not be deemed inadequate if the Commission failed to request the necessary information or if information is provided in a format other than as requested, provided that the information is capable of being read by the recipient, and (ii) there shall be a rebuttable presumption that an employer that participates in a fact-finding interview or responds fully to the questions set out on the written request for information has provided an adequate response; or

2. "Timely" if it is not made within 10 calendar days after the delivery or mailing of the Commission's request for information.

D. An employer shall be deemed to have established a pattern of failing to respond timely or adequately to written requests for information relating to claims if the Commission determines that the employer has failed to respond timely or adequately to a written request for information relating to a claim on four two or more occasions within the applicable review period. The Commission shall not find that an employer has established a pattern of failing to respond timely or adequately to written requests for information relating to claims unless the Commission has provided the employer with the notices required pursuant to subsection E.

E. The Commission shall provide the employer with a written notice following the employer's first, second, and third determinations determination by the Commission that the employer failed to respond timely or adequately to a written request for information relating to a claim within the applicable review period. Each such notice shall be delivered or mailed to the employer's last known address of agency record and shall advise the employer of the potential implications of the employer's failure to respond timely or adequately to written requests for such information.

F. Upon the Commission's third second determination within the applicable review period that an employer failed to respond timely or adequately to a written request for information relating to a claim, the Commission shall assess upon the employer a civil penalty of $75. A copy of the notice of assessment of a civil penalty shall be delivered or mailed to the employer with the notice of the employer's third second such failure as required pursuant to subsection E. Civil penalties collected pursuant to this subsection shall be paid into the Special Unemployment Compensation Administration Fund established pursuant to §60.2-314. The Commission may compromise, settle, and adjust any such penalty as authorized by §60.2-521.

G. An employer shall not be found to have failed to respond timely or adequately to a written request by the Commission for information relating to a claim if the Commission finds good cause for such failure. The Commission may shall not find good cause for an employer's failure to respond timely or adequately to such a written request unless the failure is due to compelling and necessitous circumstances beyond the employer's control.

H. If the Commission has determined that an employer has established a pattern of failing to respond timely or adequately to written requests for information relating to claims, such determination shall remain in effect until the end of the applicable review period. Any benefit charges for an erroneous payment that the Commission has determined are not to be relieved from the employer's account pursuant to subsection B shall remain chargeable to the employer's account through the period ending on the fourth June 30 following the Commission's determination.

I. The issue of whether an employer's account shall be relieved of charges relating to an erroneous payment, including whether an erroneous payment was made because the employer failed to respond timely or adequately to a written request by the Commission for information relating to the claim, shall be decided in every Commission proceeding arising from an employer's appeal of an award of benefits. Any such decision shall be subject to appeal pursuant to §60.2-620. Final decisions shall be used in determining whether the employer has established a pattern of failing to respond timely or adequately to written requests for information relating to claims, whether the employer is subject to a civil penalty pursuant to subsection F, and whether the Commission has given the notices required pursuant to subsection E.

J. The costs of benefits charged to any governmental entity, Indian tribe, or nonprofit entity that is a reimbursable employing unit under this title shall not include any credits of benefit overpayments actually collected by the Commission if the Commission finds that the overpayment was made because the entity or its agent was at fault for failing to respond timely or adequately to a written request for information relating to a claim and the entity or agent has established a pattern of failing to respond timely or adequately to such requests.

K. If the erroneous payment results from a combined-wage claim, the determination of noncharging for the combined-wage claim shall be made by the paying state. If the response from the employer does not meet the criteria established by the paying state for an adequate or timely response, the paying state shall promptly notify the transferring state of its determination, and the employer shall be appropriately charged.

L. This section applies to erroneous payments established on or after July 7, 2013.

M. If an employer fails to respond timely or adequately to a written request by the Commission for information relating to a claim, the employer shall forfeit any appeal rights to that claim otherwise available pursuant to §60.2-619.

§60.2-619. Determinations and decisions by deputy; appeals therefrom.

A. 1. A representative designated by the Commission as a deputy, shall promptly examine the claim. On the basis of the facts found by him, the deputy shall either:

a. Determine whether or not such claim is valid, and if valid, the week with respect to which benefits shall commence, the weekly benefit amount payable and the maximum duration thereof; or

b. Refer such claim or any question involved therein to any appeal tribunal or to the Commission, which tribunal or Commission shall make its determination in accordance with the procedure described in §60.2-620.

2. When the payment or denial of benefits will be determined by the provisions of subdivision 2 of §60.2-612, the deputy shall promptly transmit his full finding of fact with respect to that subdivision to any appeal tribunal, which shall make its determination in accordance with the procedure described in §60.2-620.

B. Upon the filing of an initial claim for benefits, the Commission shall cause an informatory notice of such filing to be mailed to the most recent 30-day or 240-hour employing unit of the claimant and all subsequent employing units, and any reimbursable employing units which that may be liable for reimbursement to the Commission for any benefits paid. However, the failure to furnish such notice shall not have any effect upon the claim for benefits. If a claimant has begun receiving benefits, such benefits shall continue to be paid under a presumption of continuing entitlement unless or until a deputy determines, in a process providing notice and opportunity to be heard to the claimant, that the claimant is ineligible or disqualified.

C. Notice of determination upon a claim shall be promptly given to the claimant by delivering or by mailing such notice to the claimant's last known address. In addition, notice of any determination which that involves the application of the provisions of §60.2-618, together with the reasons therefor, shall be promptly given in the same manner to the most recent 30-day or 240-hour employing unit by whom the claimant was last employed and any subsequent employing unit which is a party. The Commission may dispense with the giving of notice of any determination to any employing unit, and such employing unit shall not be entitled to such notice if it has failed to respond timely or adequately to a written request of the Commission for information, as required by §60.2-528.1, from which the deputy may have determined that the claimant may be ineligible or disqualified under any provision of this title. The deputy shall promptly notify the claimant of any decision made by him at any time which in any manner denies benefits to the claimant for one or more weeks.

D. Such determination or decision shall be final unless the claimant or any such employing unit files an appeal from such determination or decision (i) within 30 calendar days after the delivery of such notification, (ii) within 30 calendar days after such notification was mailed to his last known address, or (iii) within 30 days after such notification was mailed to the last known address of an interstate claimant. For good cause shown, the 30-day period may be extended.

E. Benefits shall be paid promptly in accordance with a determination or redetermination under this chapter, or decision of an appeal tribunal, the Commission, the Board of Review or a reviewing court under §§60.2-625 and 60.2-631 upon the issuance of such determination, redetermination or decision, regardless of the pendency of the period to file an appeal or petition for judicial review that is provided in this chapter, or the pendency of any such appeal or review. Such benefits shall be paid unless or until such determination, redetermination or decision has been modified or reversed by a subsequent redetermination or decision, in which event benefits shall be paid or denied for weeks of unemployment thereafter in accordance with such modifying or reversing redetermination or decision. If a decision of an appeal tribunal allowing benefits is affirmed in any amount by the Commission, benefits shall continue to be paid until such time as a court decision has become final so that no further appeal can be taken. If an appeal is taken from the Commission's decision, benefits paid shall result in a benefit charge to the account of the employer under §60.2-530 only when, and as of the date on which, as the result of an appeal, the courts finally determine that the Commission should have awarded benefits to the claimant or claimants involved in such appeal.

§60.2-633. Receiving benefits to which not entitled.

A. Any Except as provided in this section, a person who has received any sum as benefits under this title to which he was not entitled shall be liable to repay such sum to the Commission. For purposes of this section, "benefits under this title" includes benefits under an unemployment benefit program of the United States or of any other state. In the event that the claimant does not refund the overpayment, the Commission shall deduct from any future benefits such sum payable to him under this title. However, if an overpayment of benefits under this chapter, but not under an unemployment benefit program of the United States or of any other state, occurred due to administrative error, the Commission shall have the authority to negotiate the terms of repayment, which shall include (i) deducting up to 50 percent of the payable amount for any future week of benefits claimed, rounded down to the next lowest dollar until the overpayment is satisfied; (ii) forgoing collection of the payable amount until the recipient has found employment as defined in §60.2-212; or (iii) determining and instituting an individualized repayment plan. The Commission shall collect an overpayment of benefits under this chapter caused by administrative error only by offset against future benefits or a negotiated repayment plan; however, the Commission may institute any other method of collection if the individual fails to enter into or comply with the terms of the repayment plan. Administrative error shall not include decisions reversed in the appeals process. In addition, the overpayment may be collectible by civil action in the name of the Commission. Amounts collected in this manner may be subject to an interest charge as prescribed in §58.1-15 from the date of judgment and may be subject to fees and costs. Collection activities for any benefit overpayment established of five dollars or less may be suspended. The Commission may, for good cause, determine as uncollectible and discharge from its records any benefit overpayment which remains unpaid after the expiration of seven years from the date such overpayment was determined, or immediately upon the death of such person or upon his discharge in bankruptcy occurring subsequently to the determination of overpayment. Any existing overpayment balance not equal to an even dollar amount shall be rounded to the next lowest even dollar amount.

B. For an overpayment of benefits under this chapter, but not under an unemployment benefit program of the United States or of any other state, the individual recipient shall not be liable to repay such sum to the Commission if the Commission determines that:

1. The overpayment was not due to fraud, misrepresentation, or willful nondisclosure on the part of the recipient and its recovery would be against equity and good conscience;

2. The overpayment was a direct result of inducement, solicitation, or coercion on the part of the employer; or

3. The overpayment occurred due to administrative error.

C. For an overpayment of benefits under an unemployment benefit program of the United States, if such program authorizes the Commission to waive the repayment of such overpayment, the Commission shall waive any repayment that it determines qualifies for such waiver.

D. No person who receives benefits under this title for which such person was not entitled shall be required to repay such overpayment if the Commission determines, pursuant to §60.2-528.1, that such overpayment was made because the employer failed to respond timely or adequately to a written request by the Commission for information relating to the claim.

E. The Commission is authorized to accept repayment of benefit overpayments by use of a credit card. The Virginia Employment Commission shall add to such payment a service charge for the acceptance of such card. Such service charge shall not exceed the percentage charged to the Virginia Employment Commission for use of such card.

F. No determination with respect to benefit overpayments shall be issued until after a determination or decision that finds a claimant ineligible or disqualified for benefits previously paid has become final.

C. G. Final orders of the Commission with respect to benefit overpayments may be recorded, enforced, and satisfied as orders or decrees of a circuit court upon certification of such orders by the Commissioner as may be appropriate.

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