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Layfield v. Division of Unemployment & Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board

Superior Court of Delaware, Sussex

January 6, 2015

Layfield
v.
Division of Unemployment & Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board

Dear Parties:

Before the Court is an appeal from the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board ("UIAB") with regard to claimant Amy Layfield's ("Claimant") overpayment of unemployment insurance benefits. For the reasons that follow, the Board's decision is AFFIRMED.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In October of 2011, Claimant was employed as a receptionist and document controller. One morning she was called into the Human Resources Office and was told she was being terminated due to downsizing at the company. She was given three months severance pay and was told she could apply for unemployment benefits after January 21, 2012.

Claimant filed for unemployment insurance benefits with the Department of Labor, Division of Unemployment Insurance ("the Division"), on January 22, 2012. She was paid a weekly benefit amount of $330.00. She was informed that she could earn up to $139.00 per week without affecting her weekly benefit payment. Claimant signed the Notice of Receipt of Benefit Rights and Responsibilities form ("the Form") indicating she understood she was liable to repay the Division any sum of money equal to the benefits she received if it was determined she was not entitled to those benefits.

Towards the end of January 2012, Claimant and her sister-in- law started cleaning the law office of Stumpf, Vickers, & Sandy. They were paid $200.00 a week, which they split equally.[1]This income was not reported to the Division.[2]

Claimant filed a claim for benefits on January 22, 2014. The Division determined, pursuant to 19 Del. C. §3314(6), Claimant had been overpaid benefits in the amount of $6, 600.00 for twenty (20) weeks over the period ranging from January 28, 2012 to June 9, 2012. On January 28, 2014, the claims deputy assigned to Claimant determined she was disqualified from further receipt of unemployment benefits. As such, Claimant was unable to receive benefits with or for the week ending January 28, 2012 through week ending January 26, 2013. The determination became final on February 7, 2014 because no appeal was filed.

On March 13, 2014, the Division determinated Claimant was required to repay the benefits she received during the January 28, 2012 to June 9, 2012 time frame.[3] Claimant timely appealed this determination. A hearing was held April 10, 2014 and a decision was rendered on April 14, 2014.[4] There, the Referee affirmed the decision of the Division, finding "[d]ue to . . . non-fraudulent actions, Claimant was overpaid benefits in the amount of $6, 600.00 for twenty (20) weeks from January 28, 2012 until June 9, 2012. Claimant is liable to repay those benefits.. . ."[5]

After the Referee's decision, Claimant timely filed an appeal with the UIAB. A review hearing was held on April 23, 2014. The UIAB affirmed the Referee's decision on May 27, 2014, finding "no error in the determination reached by the Appeals Referee, " and that the Board felt that additional fact-finding would not be necessary or helpful.[6] Claimant timely filed for reconsideration on May 29, 2014.[7] On June 16, 2014 Claimant filed an appeal in this Court as to the UIAB's May 27 decision.[8] Subsequently, the UIAB denied Claimant's motion for rehearing on the grounds that "Claimant has offered no basis for the Board to revisit its prior decision . . . ."[9]

STANDARD OF REVIEW

When reviewing appeals from the UIAB, this Court examines only the record upon which the UIAB relied in making its decision.[10] The Court only determines whether substantial evidence supported the UIAB's decision, and whether the UIAB's decision is free from legal error.[11] The necessary degree of evidence is only "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion."[12] Evaluating the evidence, determining credibility issues, and deciphering factual questions are not within the Court's purview.[13] In short, the Court only decides if there is a sufficient basis to support the Board's decision.[14]

DISCUSSION

In her opening brief, [15] Claimant asserts she should not be required to repay the Division because she was not committing fraud, and only failed to report the income she received from out of mistake. However, even a mistake does not prevent the Division from seeking a recoupment of benefits.

An individual on unemployment insurance benefits can be disqualified from receiving further benefits if they commit certain acts.[16] The relevant portion of 19 Del. C. ยง3 ...


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