Updated: Apr 2, 2022
Updated: April 2, 2022
What are penalty weeks?
Penalty weeks aka false statement penalty weeks (FSPW) are issued to claimants after the Employment Development Department believes the claimant submitted false information. This is regarding wages they may have earned while receiving unemployment and when certifying for their EDD unemployment benefits. If you have been issued an overpayment notice, then there is a chance that EDD will also issue you anywhere from 5 to 23 false statement penalty weeks.
A penalty week requires you to continue certifying for your weekly unemployment benefits but not actually receive benefits for that week. It’s like serving time. Instead of a “paid” status showing for the week that you have certified, you will see “false statement penalty week” or “penalty week” as the status. Once you have served the allotted penalty weeks issued and paid back your overpayment then you can resume collecting unemployment benefits if you still have an active claim.
Why do I have false statement penalty weeks?
False statement penalty weeks are typically issued when a claimant fails to accurately report wages earned during a week that they have certified for unemployment benefits.
In order to collect unemployment benefits, you are required to report any wages earned for work performed during the week that you are certifying for. This will determine how much the EDD unemployment office will pay you for that week.
For example: If you are certifying for the week 3/27/2022-4/2/2022 and you worked on 03/29/2022, then you would be required to to mark “yes” when asked if you worked or earned money during that week. Once you mark next you will be taken to a page to indicate what type of wages you earned that week. For any worked performed, you will be required to provided the following information:
What company you worked for.
What day(s) you worked.
How many hours you worked
Your hourly rate
Total and EXACT amount earned before taxes are taken out.
**Amount must be exact. Even being off by a single penny has the potential to flag your unemployment account and force you into a review and consequently an overpayment with false penalty weeks.**
NOTE: Overpayment usually makes you pay a 30% penalty in addition to the overpayment amount… so report accurately!
Failure to report accurately will result in your account being flagged. You will then be required to wait for a determination interview to understand why you reported incorrectly.
In most determination interviews, the result is usually an overpayment notice or disqualification even in situations of honest and simple clerical errors.
After the EDD unemployment department issues a determination, you will likely be served with an overpayment notice and false penalty weeks.
Can I appeal false statement penalty weeks?
YES! You always have the right to appeal any decision issued by EDD.
If you feel as though you were mistakenly served penalty weeks then you can file an appeal. You can also file an appeal if you misreported your earnings as an honest mistake.
In situations where you misreported earnings by a small amount and it is clear that you were not actively trying to defraud EDD, then a judge will likely reverse the decision to make you serve false statement penalty weeks as well as pay a 30% penalty on the overpayment. However, the actual overpayment will still be owed.
PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE & FALSE STATEMENT PENALTY WEEKS
NOTE: The PUA program is no longer available since there are no federal programs active. Below is information that was relevant when the federal programs were active:
Can people who have penalty weeks get access to benefits?
Even people who have paid back all of their overpayments and paid any penalties owed may still have penalty weeks remaining that make them ineligible for UI for a period of time of up to three years.
NOTE: During the pandemic, PUA was available for not only the self-employed and independent contractors but also for other individuals who are ineligible for UI. Those serving penalty weeks fall into this category.
People have been stated their claims have been automatically rolled into PUA with the $167 benefit amount. Despite being on PUA, it has been said you will still have to serve those penalty weeks eventually.
If I am serving penalty weeks and ineligible for UI, what do I need to do to get PUA?
PUA applications opened on 4/28/20
Individuals with active UI claims who are not receiving UI benefits because they are serving penalty weeks should not reapply for UI or apply for PUA.
If you have an active UI claim between the period February 2, 2020 to April 27, 2020, you will be mailed a notice as early as Saturday, May 2, 2020, with more information about the PUA program, how you can receive these benefits, and how to complete and return the notice to the EDD. On the notice, you will be asked to indicate whether your unemployment is a direct result of COVID-19. Eligible claimants will be paid retroactively for their past weeks of unemployment and will receive the extra $600 payments for each week they were unemployed beginning March 29, 2020 through July 25, 2020.
All payments required to be paid by the claimant (you), including overpayments and penalties associated with overpayments, still need to be paid.
If you have not applied for UI benefits by April 27, 2020 but know you are required to serve penalty weeks, please follow the normal benefits application process through UI Online and complete the self-certification, which is now part of the claim filing application.
I was almost done serving my penalty weeks, but now they've automatically rolled me over to PUA. I have a smaller benefit amount now than I did before.
In order to go back to your regular UI benefits, you need to call to make this adjustment to request to stay on regular UI benefits. It's not a guarantee that they can do it, but it definitely does not hurt to try. Phone tips here.
I have false statement penalty weeks, can I get PEUC?
If you still have false statement penalty weeks on your regular UI claim, you are not eligible for PEUC and you will continue on the PUA claim
Can I move from PUA to PEUC?
PEUC is a 13 week extension ONLY for people that have exhausted regular UI benefits and not related to those serving penalty weeks or need to serve.
I'm back to work, should I continue to certify?
If you are waiting for pending weeks to clear and you have money you are waiting to be paid out to you -- do not close your claim. Continue to certify - you need your claim to be open for those weeks to be cleared
The penalty weeks I have are correct and I'm not doing an appeal. What about me?
Once you are done a second letter should be sent to you to get PUA retropay for the weeks that you had done penalty weeks before
May 2nd letter
The letter states they will allow people with penalty weeks. DO NOT CHECK "do not apply" because you need to meet one of the following requirements in order to qualify for PUA retro pay. Check the first box "job shut down due to COVID-19". We are talking about your previous weeks.
Appeals & Penalty weeks
If my PUA is as much as my UI at $450 and we're getting the difference in retro pay for all the weeks as if we were on UI the entire time, why would I continue to appeal?
If you win your appeal you will have the opportunity to eliminate your penalty weeks for future claims and possibly get your 30% penalty or even a small chance of getting your overpayment you paid back (rare, but not impossible)
I won my appeal. What happens next?
This question is for people who have won, have been waiting up to 5 weeks, and have not been paid. According to an appeals rep and a couple EDD supervisors - this is what they expect to happen
Appeals office will send the decision back to EDD
You'll get your decision in mail within a week
You may see some changes on your claim history where it said "appeal"
When you get your mailed decision saying you won, you may notice your penalty weeks, overpayments and disqualifications disappear and if you proved that the EDD made the overpayment in error, you could possibly get that money back (though has not been heard of yet)
After the waiting period, you are supposed to get full UI retro pay
NOTE: In these unprecedented times, policies and procedures are always changing, so don't be surprised if today's right is tomorrow's wrong