Technically, all pandemic unemployment benefit options are over, unless new legislation is made. I was hoping things would slow down in our Facebook group, but there are now two sets of questions regarding the PUA 90-Day Questionnaire. One is for those trying to figure out how to fill it out, another for those appealing a determination saying they hadn't turned things in and were denied.
Let me make this clear - you must fill out the 90-day questionnaire, even if you have submitted all this information before, or you may have to PAY BACK everything you've received since December 27, 2020. During a recent press call (starting about 14 minutes in), CDLE said that documents you submit for ONE issue cannot necessarily be seen from ANOTHER issue that you've already answered. Yeah, technology is helpful.
Here is some advice I've compiled from many sources within the group (and CDLE - you know they DO have some information on the website...):
- Background on why you're asked to do the questionnaire
- To FIND the appeal and turn it in electronically through MyUI+, instead of faxing or mailing
- Advice on wording your appeal, from Brian Stutheit
- Adding supporting documents
- If you are mailing or faxing in your appeal
- If you are JUST NOW receiving the 90 day questionnaire
- If your appeal is also denied, you can request a waiver
Background on why you're asked to do the questionnaire
From CDLE's website:
The Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act and American Rescue Plan Act extended Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits and required PUA claimants to provide proof of employment, self employment, or proof of planned commencement of employment or self-employment (attachment to the workforce) within 90 days from when they are noticed.
From the Denver Channel article (emphasis added):
"Spesshardt says there are still ways to resolve the overpayment issues even after the notifications were sent. He says the most important thing to do is to appeal the notice with whatever information is available to challenge it.
"The first step is an individual would want to do is appeal that decision because that is what ultimately can make that overpayment go away," said Spesshardt. "Collection activity can only begin on an unemployment insurance payment once a decision is final."
The CDLE is gearing up to send another round of notifications to a new group of 21,000 Coloradans who will have 90 days to respond or face similar headaches. Spesshardt says anyone who identifies as a gig worker who received unemployment assistance in 2021 should check their inbox."
PUA was a totally new program created during the pandemic, so that people with only 1099 wages could receive unemployment. Usually unemployment benefits are only available to those with W2 earnings. While many people believe they are the ones who put into their unemployment fund, it is actually the EMPLOYERS who have put into the fund, and get charged higher if people then use those funds. This is why they may contest your request for benefits, especially if you were fired for adequate reasoning. Here's more on What Does an Unemployment Claim Cost an Employer? Also, the press call said that you may be given an ineligible determination if you HAD turned in documentation, but it wasn't ENOUGH documentation.
To FIND the appeal and turn it in electronically through MyUI+, instead of faxing or mailing:
Go to Issues and Determinations (within , under Determinations of Eligibility find the one that says "PUA - mailed", open it by clicking the document ID, click "view determination", once that is clicked and they've viewed the determination and closed it, the "appeal this decision" will appear right on their screen, they click that and follow the prompts. Once they submit the appeal the "PUA - mailed" turns back to "PUA - pending" and the level changes from adjudication to appeals.
Advice on wording your appeal, from Brian Stutheit:
Consider whether the following language fits your circumstances and if you might use it to start your appeal. Remember, you must file your appeal on time.
“Reasons I disagree with the September 16, 2021 Notice of Determination:
1) Contrary to the Notice of Determination, I responded to every request by the Division.
2) The Notice contains a spreadsheet documenting only $6,276 in alleged overpayments, but sets the total claimed overpaid at $17,782.
3) As recently as June 28, 2021 the division approved my eligibility through June 26, 2021, having considered the same questions by the Division and answers by me which the Division now says I failed to respond to. “
“I have repeatedly sent my earnings records, including tax returns, to the Division. I will provide copies to the hearing officer on appeal.”
“The Notice of Determination gives me insufficient information about the basis for the overpayment decision, and denies me the opportunity to adequately appeal.”
What you are trying to do with your appeal is preserve your right to have a hearing with an impartial hearing officer who, unlike so many agents for the Division of Unemployment, has the time and authority to hear your side of the story. You need not go into great detail, but you should respond directly and deny the Reasoning and Findings which is in the Notice of Determination.
Adding supporting documents
If there is any section that says "do you have more you want to add" or "add additional pages to support", etc. then include the documents they said you didn't turn in the first time. The list of acceptable documents is at this CDLE link, but most turn in a Schedule C from their federal tax return. From another member: With the electronic appeal, if people want to attach their own documents, they can do so once it changes back to "PUA -pending- appeals". They just open the determination again and it will ask if they want to view appeals documents or something like that, they click yes, and it will take them to where they can upload their own documents. Once their documents are uploaded it will list them and show them when they view their determination and click view appeals documents. It's one of the reasons why I think this is the far superior way to file an appeal. CDLE can't say it wasn't done because it's all documented in their account.
From me: The official wording is "Documentation must be dated between January 1st of the year prior to the effective date of your PUA claim and the effective date of your PUA claim." If you had a long enough claim, I would submit BOTH 2019 and 2020 to be safe, personally. Schedule C is the most popular accepted document, as it shows both your gross and net earnings. Per the advice for MEUC claims, "The best documentation to submit is IRS Form 1040 with Schedule 1, Schedule C, Schedule E, or Schedule SE." (Note, MEUC is a $100/week add on for those on Standard UI who also had $5,000 of net 1099 earnings, but weren't eligible for PUA - so it would be the same info requested to prove 1099 wages.)
If you are mailing or faxing in your appeal
Add the documentation as separate pages. Some are choosing to use registered mail. You can also fax by scanning all documents, either through phone apps, or my choice of using FaxZero. It is free for up to 5 pages, or was $2.09 for me for 6-25 pages. But, I agree with the other person that if you can manage to do it online, they can't say they didn't receive it. We have had issues, however, with people getting error messags that their files were too big. Scanning is certainly more convenient than heading out to FedEx or some place. Be sure to include your Claimant ID number on all pages. They suggest no cover letter, but frankly, FaxZero insists on sending one.
If you are JUST NOW receiving the 90 day questionnaire
As mentioned in the Denver Channel article refrenced above, a "new group will have 90 days to prove they did not receive the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits in error....anyone who identifies as a gig worker who received unemployment assistance in 2021 should check their inbox." Turn it in on time!!!!
The CDLE page on PUA documentation includes directions of HOW to submit, as well as WHAT you can submit. However, as mentioned, Schedule C from your tax return is usually the best. Don't delay, or you'll be charged with an overpayment for not turning in your documents, and have to pay back ALL of your pandemic unemployment. As the Denver Channel reported, "CDLE says 21,000 more Pandemic Unemployment Assistance overpayment warnings coming this week." (Note, the CDLE link currently has a December 21 due date listed, but each person may have a different date, 90 days from receiving it in their account.)
EDIT 9/23 - Follow the CDLE link in the paragraph above on how to submit, as well as this blog post's section about submitting documents, but we also have the following information: Access the questionnaire from the Inbox of your account. That is where it should be. Once completed there should be a box to check that you have documents to upload. If you don't have a questionnaire, go to Issues & Determinations, scroll down to Determinations of Eligibility, find the one that says PUA Pending with the most recent date. Click on the Issue ID and it will open a new page. On that page fill in the little box to provide additional info with the info she is submitting and why, then check the box that says "Check here if you would like to provide any additional documentation that is relevant for this issue" and that will take you to a page to upload her documents. Also, HAVE ALL OF YOUR DOCUMENTS READY TO GO so that it doesn't time out for you. We have had one person with that issue.
If your appeal is also denied, you can request a waiver
Per the press call (around the 31 minute mark): "Parties do have the ability to again appeal decisions that create those overpayments, and they also have the ability to request waiver of those overpayments, which are then reviewed and determined based on an individual's circumstances to repay. Whether the waiver would be granted or denied - even if we ultimately deny a waiver, an individual has an appeal right to such denial also.