Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) officials have announced they will require people who receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits on or after December 27 of last year to provide proof of employment or self-employment.
Those people must also show a valid offer to begin employment and proof of wages by August 14.
This, according to a press release that GDOL officials published this week.
GDOL officials previously required that PUA claimants only provide proof of wages documentation. They also said that this new federal requirement to provide proof of employment documentation is “a fraud prevention measure.”
“This is a requirement we believe should have been included in the original CARES Act legislation,” Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said in the press release.
“Instead, Congress waited nine months into the pandemic to require the additional documentation, confusing many claimants who believed they had already fulfilled the obligation. However, in an effort to authenticate these federal payments, we are asking that PUA claimants make sure these documents have been uploaded to avoid an overpayment situation.”
Claimants must prove that they were employed or self-employed and earned wages at some point between the start of the previous completed tax year, January 2019, through the date of their PUA application or that the claimant had an offer to begin employment or start self-employment but could not do so as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the press release said.
“If a claimant fails to respond timely and/or provide sufficient documentation, eligibility will be reconsidered. The claimant will be denied and required to repay all PUA benefits received during the denial period. In addition, he/she may face possible criminal prosecution if it is determined the claimant misrepresented facts to receive PUA benefits for which he/she was not entitled,” the press release said.
“PUA claimants are required to complete this federal requirement even if he/she returned to work, were no longer eligible for PUA benefits, were not receiving PUA benefits when the PUA program ended or are no longer receiving PUA benefits because the program ended. If a claimant has already uploaded proof of their employment and wages to their My UI portal, he/she is not required to upload these documents again.”
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star.