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Can Florida take back unemployment benefits I won a hearing on?

by Nancy

I applied to the state of Florida for unemployment at the end of 2011. I quit my job because of a hostile workplace; also my pay had been reduced. I feel the employer wanted me to quit so she wouldn't have to pay unemployment. I was initially denied benefits and then won my appeal. My benefits ended 10/13 when I began working where I work to this day. I just received a notice (02/15) from Florida : "Notice of Disqualification. Reason for quitting was not attributable to the employer. Claimant did not report for work and was considered to have abandoned the job. Any payments are subject to recovery." How can this be after all this time? The employer was found to be at fault at the time of the appeal and I would think we were way past any time limits.

Chris's Answer

Hi Nancy,

Great question by the way. As you might imagine a question with the actual language used in a determination helps me a lot vs. when someone repeats the title in the BIG BOX where I expect enough details to decipher what might be going on.

First, yes they can, so you must appeal this because it is the last determination being issued on that old claim. But, in my opinion, you should be able to prove them wrong. Best case scenario, they may issue a redetermination without forcing you to attend another appeal hearing to prove why the new determination is erroneous.

For some reason (possibly losing, or assigning your hearing decision to a claim with the wrong SSN) the State of Florida is attempting to override an already existing hearing decision that reversed on appeal, the initial non-monetary determination denying benefits on a voluntary quit you proved to a Florida hearing referee was with good cause. Sadly, your question is not as uncommon as you
might think, except for it's quality.

I hope you still possess the original determination you appeal and the subsequent hearing decision reversing it (in the event this is happening because Florida lost it). It should do a lot for you, because this overpayment determination is for all intent and purpose, attempting to override, or ignore a hearing decision the claim department cannot override on the voluntary quit issue. (Concept here is sort of like double jeopardy and being charged with the same crime as opposed to a different charge, or crime.)

If it were me, I would send my copies of the original initial determination denying benefits, (as long as it's for this precise employer and separation), my original appeal letter to the determination on the voluntary quit, and last, but not least, the Florida hearing referee's decision reversing the initial denial determination, with the appeal letter to this voluntary quit/overpayment determination.

In essence, Florida is trying to re-adjudicate a matter that has already been settled on appeal. I hope you saved all that paper .. in the event Florida is doing this because they lost it.

Although my advice for an appeal letter is to KISS, in this case, I'm hoping the evidence provided with the appeal letter will prompt Florida to issue a redetermination that acknowledges their error and therefore, let you off the hook.

It's not like
unemployment departments never makes mistakes and from my point of view, some of those mistakes, can seem almost ... intentional.

But then, that's just my personal impression .. and not proof.. like Florida is now requiring of you to avoid repaying all those benefits so long ago that you won the right to receive.


PS I'm leaving this question here on the about me page at least until I get busy and make room for this and all other questions about unemployment overpayments.

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