Monarch Law helps business owners or individuals at unemployment appeal hearings. The system, however, is broken. In 2021, the unemployment matters for which we were hired increased by 82%. That doesn’t count the phone calls we received or consultations we gave on the topic. The question we hear most often is: “Do I really have to pay back the unemployment benefits I received last year?” The answer is, “it depends.”

The global pandemic known as Covid-19 caused – and continues to cause – havoc for business owners and individuals alike. It seems that most state departments of labor were ill-equipped to handle the avalanche of unemployment claims in 2020. We found that many claimants were considered eligible for benefits despite many years’ worth of decisions that would support the opposite result.

Benefits were approved while communication was slow to reach the hands of employers and employees. The CT Department of Labor (“CTDOL”) is not solely responsible for the delay. We received calls from people who say they ignored hearing notices or forgot to respond to requests for more information.

And so, many months after the start of the pandemic, the CTDOL is receiving more information about previously approved claims. We believe that the “Notice of Potential Liability” is the mechanism it uses to reconsider these claims. This “Notice” tells the employer that a certain employee received benefits and asks if the employer disagrees. Essentially, the document gives the employer another bite (or first bite) at the apple.

Employers should not ignore the Notice. Failure to complete it properly will result in an increased tax rating. Employees should never ignore a hearing notice or letter from the CTDOL – no matter how unexpected or shocking it may be. Under certain limited circumstances, the CTDOL may agree to waive some or all of the “overpayment.”

No matter what your role is (Claimant versus Respondent), request and obtain all documents from the CTDOL before you contact a lawyer. By doing this, you and the lawyer will have a more productive initial conversation about your case. Good luck.