The new COVID relief bill will allow states to forgive PUA overpayments.

Good news! If you're worried about repaying unemployment benefits, a provision in the newly-inked coronavirus stimulus bill will allow states to waive the requirements and let the claimant keep the extra money. The reprieve applies to gig workers and freelancers that received funds from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (PUA) under the CARES Act. In recent months, workers across the country have been notified they had been overpaid and would need to return the extra money.

When the CARES Act was signed into law earlier this year, Congress implemented a new program to help the millions of freelance workers that wouldn’t traditionally qualify for regular unemployment benefits. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program allowed states to pay workers based on tax returns and other financial documents. Many states were overwhelmed with requests and the method for calculating benefits wasn’t clearly defined. In the end, some workers ended up waiting months to get a check while others were overpaid. The new coronavirus relief bill includes language that allows states to forgive the overpayments if they choose to.

Gig worker
Photo by Tim Samuel from Pexels

So what should you do if you received a notice to repay benefits? For now, you should keep the money. Congress has passed the new stimulus bill and it may take time for states to decide whether or not they will forgive the overpayments. You can also contact your state’s unemployment division for more guidance on the issue.

The new $900 billion dollar relief bill will provide one-time payments of $600 for individuals making less than $75,000 a year and $150,000 for couples. Families will all also receive $600 for each child. The bill also provides $8 billion for vaccines, $25 billion for rental assistance, $13 billion for SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and an extra $300 per week in federal unemployment payments.