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Expected to Work/Barriers to Full Employment Policy & Procedures

Published Date: July 18, 2014
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18 Overpayment, Debt and Recovery

Recoveries System

POLICY

After review of the client’s and file information, the worker enters the overpayment into the Recoveries System. The Recoveries System is a web-based system used to calculate Community and Social Services overpayments and record collection activity.

All overpayments are entered into the Recoveries System with the exception of those:

  • Less than $50 for any Period of Assistance (POA). This includes overpayments that accumulate over numerous POAs, to a total of $50 or greater, but which are less than $50 per POA.
  • Where the overpayment is for a POA older than three years from the date the overpayment is discovered (with the exception of sponsorship debts and fraud convictions resulting in a judgment or restitution order). For these matters, if an overpayment is discovered within three years (of when it occurred) it would not be limited to the three year period of retroactivity and an overpayment would be entered for the entire period in which the overpayment has been determined.

    For example:
    If the overpayment is discovered today, but it occurred four years ago then an overpayment would not be assessed (unless it is a matter of sponsorship or fraud). If the overpayment is discovered today, but occurred within the last three years and the overpayment stretched back farther than three years, then an overpayment would be assessed for the entire period.


For overpayments less than $50 or for a POA older than three years, the worker:

  • documents the occurrence of the overpayment in Mobius Notes, and
  • indicates that due to the overpayment being under $50 or that the overpayment was for a period older than three years it is not recoverable.


Assignment of Overpayment
Normally an overpayment is assigned to the Head of Household. The Recoveries System attaches the overpayment to the Personal Identification Number (PID).

The system allows the worker to assign the overpayment to the Head of Household, the partner, or split the overpayment between the two. (i.e., If the partner had undeclared income it may be appropriate to assign the overpayment to the partner.)

Splitting an Overpayment
If both the Head of Household and the partner had undeclared income, it may be appropriate to split the overpayment. If the overpayment is split, the total overpayment of the Head of Household and the partner must not exceed:

  • The total benefits issued, or
  • The amount of the overpayment which would be assigned to one individual.


Entering an Overpayment
The worker enters the information in the OP/Debt Groups Summary screen to calculate a new overpayment. All new overpayments and repayments entered in the IS/AISH/AAHB Debt Type will default to temporary status when first created.

Note
Refer to the Recoveries System On-Line Help for a more detailed procedure of entering an overpayment.

Adjusting an Overpayment/Debt
Edit is used to calculate an adjustment (increase or decrease) to an overpayment or permanent debt (creating an OP Pending). Adjustments are made when new information is received which affects the calculation of the overpayment or debt (e.g., Income and Employment Supports Appeal Panel decision, new information from the client, error in previous calculation). If you adjust a permanent debt it does not go back to a Temporary Overpayment.

Note
You cannot adjust a permanent debt upwards without creating a new overpayment.

The worker adds or adjusts any need or income code based on new information and notifies the client (when appropriate).

  • If the medical benefits were excluded in the initial determination and the worker wishes to continue to exclude them, the worker clicks on the Exclude Med Benefits and “reloads” pay history or manually deletes the appropriate medical need line(s) from the Edit OP/Debt Details screen if the pay history was “reloaded”.

    Note
    If medical benefits are not excluded all need/income lines (including medical benefits) will be brought in when the worker “reloads” pay history. 


If the medical benefits were excluded in the initial determination and the worker now wishes to include them, the worker does not click the Exclude Med Benefits and “reloads” pay history.

  • If the medical benefits were included in the initial determination and now the worker wishes to exclude them, the worker must manually delete the appropriate medical need line(s) from the Edit OP/Debt Details screen.


If after the adjustment is entered and the end result is a credit balance, the amount owing is issued from LISA to the client.

Editing an Overpayment or Debt
Edit
is used to edit an existing temporary or permanent OP Pending save. The worker can change the temporary save to a permanent save or edit existing information on a temporary or permanent OP Pending save.

Internal Comments must be entered to explain the reason for the adjustment.

Internal Comments
All comments related to overpayment calculations must be entered in Internal Comments of the Recoveries System.

The following headings and information are defaulted by the Recoveries System:

  • Date Entered           defaults in the current date
  • Author                     defaults in the person entering the overpayment/debt


The worker enters comments under the following headings:

  • Subject               A one line summary of the text
  • Text                    A clear and concise explanation of activities or contacts


Overpayment Notice
The worker must print the EMP 5510 Overpayment Notice from the Recoveries System whenever an overpayment is entered or adjusted. It details how the overpayment was calculated and includes comments entered by the worker explaining the reason for the overpayment.

Notice Comment
Comments for the client included with the EMP 5510 Overpayment Notice outlining the reason for the overpayment. As comments are for the client they must be entered in the first person (e.g., “you have been overpaid” versus “the client was overpaid”).

The following headings and information is defaulted by the Recoveries system:

  • Date Entered                        defaults in the current date
  • Author                                  defaults in the person entering the comment
  • Period(s) of Overpayment  defaults in the month(s) the overpayment occurred


The worker enters comments under the following headings:

  • Subject        A one line reason for the overpayment
  • Text             A clear and concise explanation as to why and when the overpayment occurred and how it was calculated.

    Example
    It is not appropriate to simply state “you received excess income”. The client must be told what the excess income was, who earned it and how the program treats that income. If the client is not given an earnings exemption because they deliberately failed to report employment income, that information must be communicated to them.


Temporary Saves
All new overpayments and repayments entered in the IS/AISH/AAHB Debt Type will default to temporary status when first created. This means the overpayment entered is not yet a permanent record for the client and no collection activity can commence.

Note
The EMP 5510 Overpayment Notice (or the EMP 2828 Debt Notice which was used for debts prior to the EMP 5510 Overpayment Notice) may be printed and used for court purposes.

There is no time limit on the temporary save function. Notification will appear on the creator’s Homepage 40 days after the overpayment has been created to remind the worker that additional action may be required.

Third Party Debtors
If the overpayment is being assigned to a person who is not a client (e.g., defaulting sponsor, other third party debtors), that debtor can be added to the Recoveries System.

PROCEDURES

On-line recoveries procedures are the same for active files and closed files. Procedures used in the Recoveries System can be found by accessing the Recoveries System On-Line Help.

Creating a New Overpayment in a Period of Assistance (POA) Where No Overpayment Exists or Where a Debt Exists

The worker:

  1. Creates the overpayment as temporary or OP Pending status.
  2. Enters the appropriate Notice Comment and Internal Comments.
  3. Prints a copy of the EMP 3911 Notice of Assessed Overpayment letter from the Recoveries System and sends to the client along with the Overpayment Notice, including the Notice Comment page (printed automatically with the overpayment letter).
  4. Records this activity in Mobius Notes to indicate that the letter was sent to the client.

    Note
    The worker can print the last letter or all previous notices as many times as required. The name of the worker who entered or adjusted the overpayment/debt defaults to the bottom of the letter.

    If the letter is returned, enters Internal Comments in the Recoveries System, records this activity in Mobius Notes, and shreds the letter.

Changing an Overpayment into a Debt
Once the appeal period has elapsed, the appeal has been disposed of by the appeal panel or the appeal has been determined to be abandoned, the worker:

  1. Converts the overpayment into a debt by changing the temporary or OP Pending status to permanent status.
  2. Prints a copy of the EMP 3912 Debt with the Government of Alberta (ETW/BFE Active and Closed) letter. Sends the letter to the client along with the EMP 2827 Statement of Debt (printed automatically with the debt letter).
  3. If the documents are returned, enters Internal Comments in the Recoveries System, records this activity in Mobius Notes, and shreds the letter.

Note 
Sometimes a client will make a payment at an Alberta Works Centre or at Service Alberta without the worker's knowledge before the overpayment has been converted to a debt or the debt has been entered into the repayment system (ie., when the amount of a repayment agreement is unknown). Service Alberta will contact the worker when they receive the client's payment in order for the worker to convert the overpayment to a debt. Service Alberta will then enter the payment against the debt. 

Creating a New Overpayment in a POA Where an Overpayment Exists or Adjusting an Existing Overpayment
Creating a new overpayment in a POA where an overpayment already exists or adjusting an existing overpayment is the same activity. In both situations the client would have received notification of an overpayment but the appeal period/process would not have been completed and the amount would not have been determined to be a debt.

The worker:

  1. Adjusts the overpayment based upon the new information using the Edit Debt Group feature to edit an existing temporary or OP Pending save.
  2. Enters new Notice Comment and Internal Comments to reflect the new information.
  3. Follows the process for sending notification as if they had created a new overpayment.

    Note
    As the client is receiving notification of a new amount this becomes a new overpayment for the entire amount (including the initial and adjusted amounts). The client must receive the full appeal period beginning from the date the new (or adjusted) overpayment notice is sent.


Deleting an Existing Overpayment
When an overpayment (temporary status) is deleted (e.g., the appeal panel reverses the department’s decision) the worker must enter an Internal Comment in the Recoveries System and record this activity in Mobius Notes detailing the reason why the overpayment was deleted to ensure a record of the activity is maintained.

Adjusting an Existing Debt
Once an overpayment has been determined to be a debt it is not possible to increase the amount for the same POA without providing the client their right to appeal the new assessment. Therefore, increasing an existing debt must be treated the same as creating a new overpayment in a POA where a debt already exists (these are referred to as OP Pending).

However, if the worker determines new information results in a decrease to an existing debt (other than a debt confirmed by the appeal panel), the worker:

  1. Adjusts the debt using the Edit Debt Group function.

     

  2. Prints two copies of the updated EMP 2827 Statement of Debt. Sends one copy to the client along with a letter (created by the worker) explaining how and why the debt was decreased and places the other copy on Section 1 of the client’s file.

     

  3. If the documents are returned, enters Internal Comments in the Recoveries System and records this activity in Mobius Notes and shreds the letter.


Entering a Debt from a Repayment Agreement (when the amount is known) or Fraud Conviction
If the client has signed a repayment agreement agreeing they have a debt or has been convicted of fraud and has been ordered to pay restitution or compensation, the worker:

  1. Sets up the overpayment as temporary status, but does not print the overpayment documents.

     

  2. Converts the overpayment to a debt and enters Internal Comments.

     

  3. Prints a copy of the EMP 3912 Debt with the Government of Alberta (ETW/BFE Active and Closed) letter and the EMP 2827 Statement of Debt. Sends the letter to the client.

     

  4. If the documents are returned, enters Internal Comments in the Recoveries System and records this activity in Mobius Notes and shreds the letter.


In most situations, Investigations staff do not enter overpayments, and the following procedures apply:

  1. Fraud documents the outcome of the investigation in Mobius Notes.

     

  2. If an overpayment has not occurred the worker enters comments in Mobius Notes.

     

  3. If there is a fraud conviction and the client has been ordered to pay restitution or compensation, the worker enters the debt using reason Fraud Conviction for the debt, and changes the Court Order/Fraud Conviction flag to YES.

     

  4. If there is no conviction but an overpayment has occurred the worker enters the appropriate reason (e.g., unreported income).

     

  5. The worker records this activity in Mobius Notes.


LISA and CCD
Once a debt is entered on an active file, the Recoveries System downloads the:

  • debt amount to LISA
  • R Flag change on LISA
  • Recovery Flag change on CCD


Once a debt is entered on a closed file, the Recoveries System downloads the change to the Recovery Flag on CCD. Updated information downloads to LISA if the file is reopened.