Code of the District of Columbia

§ 51–118. Protection of rights and benefits; child support obligations.

(a) No agreement by any individual to waive any of his rights under this subchapter or to pay any part of the contribution payable by his employer with respect to his or any other individual’s employment, shall be valid; nor shall any employer make, require, or permit any deduction from the wages payable to his employees for the purpose of paying any part of the contributions required of the employer under this subchapter, or require or attempt to induce any individual to waive any right he may acquire under this subchapter. Any employer who violates any provision of this subsection shall, for each such offense, be fined not less than $100 nor more than $1,000 or be imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both.

(b)(1) Except as hereinafter provided no assignment, pledge, or encumbrance of any right to benefits which are or may become due or payable under this subchapter shall be valid or enforceable; and the right to any such benefits shall be exempt from levy, execution, attachment, or any other remedy whatsoever provided for the collection of debt; and the benefits received by any individual so long as they are not mingled with other funds of the recipient shall be exempt from any remedy whatsoever for the collection of all debts except debts accrued for necessaries furnished to such individual, his spouse, or his dependents during the time when such individual was unemployed.

(2) An individual filing a new claim for unemployment compensation shall disclose, at the time of filing such a claim, whether the individual owes child support obligations as defined under paragraph (8) of this subsection. If any individual discloses that he or she owes child support obligations and is determined to be eligible for unemployment compensation, the Director shall notify the appropriate state or local child support enforcement agency that the individual has been determined to be eligible for unemployment compensation.

(3) The Director shall deduct and withhold from any unemployment compensation payable to an individual that owes child support obligations as defined under paragraph (8) of this subsection the following:

(A) The amount specified by the individual to the Director to be deducted and withheld under this subsection if neither subparagraph (B) nor (C) of this paragraph is applicable;

(B) The amount (if any) determined pursuant to an agreement submitted to the Director under § 454(19)(B)(i) of the Social Security Act by the appropriate state or local child support enforcement agency, unless subparagraph (C) of this paragraph is applicable; or

(C) Any amount otherwise required to be so deducted and withheld from the unemployment compensation pursuant to legal process as that term is defined in § 462(e) of the Social Security Act.

(4) Any amount deducted and withheld under paragraph (2) of this subsection shall be paid by the Director to the appropriate state or local child support enforcement agency.

(5) Any amount deducted and withheld under paragraph (2) of this subsection shall be treated for all purposes as if it were paid to the individual as unemployment compensation and paid by such an individual to the state or local child enforcement agency in satisfaction of the individual’s child support obligations.

(6) For purposes of paragraphs (2) through (5) of this subsection, the term “unemployment compensation” means any compensation payable under the state law (including amounts payable by the District pursuant to an agreement under any federal law providing for compensation, assistance, or allowances with respect to unemployment).

(7) Deductions shall be made pursuant to this subsection only if appropriate arrangements have been made for reimbursement by the state or local child enforcement agency for the administrative costs incurred by the Director under this subsection which are attributable to child support obligations being enforced by the state or local child support enforcement agency.

(8) The term “child support obligations” is defined for purposes of these provisions as including only obligations which are being enforced pursuant to a plan described in § 454 of the Social Security Act which has been approved by the Secretary of Health and Human Services under part D of title IV of the Social Security Act.

(9) The term “state or local child enforcement agency” as used in these provisions means any agency of a state or political subdivision thereof operating pursuant to a plan described in paragraph (8) of this subsection.

(c) No individual seeking to establish a claim for benefits shall be charged any fee whatsoever by the Director or the Director’s representatives, or by the court or any officer thereof. Any individual claiming benefits in any proceeding before the Director or the Director’s representative or the court may be represented by counsel or other duly authorized agent; but no such counsel or agent shall either charge or receive for such services more than an amount approved by the Director. Any person who violates any provision of this subsection shall, for each such offense, be fined not more than $500 or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.

(d)(1) An individual filing a new claim for unemployment compensation benefits shall be advised at the time of filing the claim, that:

(A) Unemployment compensation is subject to federal, state, and local income taxes;

(B) Requirements exist pertaining to estimated tax payments;

(C) The individual may elect to have federal income tax deducted and withheld from the individual’s payment of unemployment compensation with respect to benefits paid on or after January 1, 1997, at the amount specified in the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, approved October 22, 1986 (100 Stat. 2085; 26 U.S.C. § 1 et seq.);

(D) The individual may elect to have District of Columbia income tax deducted and withheld from the individual’s payment of unemployment compensation at the rate of 5% with respect to weeks of benefits paid on or after January 1, 2002; and

(E) The individual shall be permitted to change a previously elected withholding status on 2 occasions during the individual’s benefit year.

(2) Amounts deducted and withheld from unemployment compensation shall remain in the unemployment fund until transferred to the federal or District taxing authority as a payment of income tax.

(3) The Director shall follow all procedures specified by the United States Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service, and the District of Columbia taxing authority pertaining to the deducting and withholding of income tax.

(4) Amounts shall be deducted and withheld pursuant to this section only after amounts are deducted and withheld for any benefit overpayment or child support obligations required to be deducted and withheld under this subchapter.


(Aug. 28, 1935, 49 Stat. 955, ch. 794, § 19; renumbered § 18, June 4, 1943, 57 Stat. 123, ch. 117, § 1; Sept. 17, 1982, D.C. Law 4-147, § 2(k), 29 DCR 3347; Sept. 24, 1993, D.C. Law 10-15, § 216, 40 DCR 5420; Feb. 5, 1994, D.C. Law 10-68, § 40(c), 40 DCR 6311; Oct. 3, 2001, D.C. Law 14-28, § 4702, 48 DCR 6981.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 46-119.

1973 Ed., § 46-318.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 14-28 added subsec. (d).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary amendment of section, see § 2 of the Unemployment Compensation Federal Conformity Emergency Amendment Act of 1996 (D.C. Act 11-478, January 9, 1997, 44 DCR 624).

For temporary amendment of section, see § 2 of the Unemployment Compensation Federal Conformity Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1997 (D.C. Act 12-64, April 3, 1997, 44 DCR 2434).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 4202 of Fiscal Year 2002 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2001 (D.C. Act 14-124, August 3, 2001, 48 DCR 7861).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(b) of Unemployment Compensation Terrorist Response Emergency Amendment Act of 2001 (D.C. Act 14-157, October 25, 2001, 48 DCR 10219).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 216 of District of Columbia Unemployment Compensation Comprehensive Improvements Temporary Amendment Act of 1992 (D.C. Law 9-260, March 27, 1993, law notification 40 DCR 2330).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 2 of Unemployment Compensation Federal Conformity Temporary Amendment Act of 1997 (D.C. Law 11-266, May 21, 1997, law notification 44 DCR 2985).

References in Text

The Social Security Act, which is referred to in subsections (b)(3)(B), (b)(3)(C) and (b)(8), is codified generally as Title 42 of the U.S. Code. Sections 454 (19)(B)(i), 462(e) and 454 of that act are codified as 42 U.S.C. §§ 654(19)(B)(i), 662(e) and 654, respectively. Part D of title IV of the Social Security Act is codified as 42 U.S.C. § 651 et seq.

Editor's Notes

Paragraphs (4) and (5) of subsection (b) are set forth above as enacted by D.C. Law 4-147. The references to “paragraph (2)” in those paragraphs should probably read “paragraph (3)”.