The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the award of $49 million in grants to support 28 states and territories as they continue their efforts to combat fraud in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation programs. The department is making these awards from $100 million in funding announced Jan. 15, 2021 for states to combat fraud in these programs.
By law, states must have an adequate system for administering the PUA program including procedures for identity verification or validation. The funding announced today will go to the first 28 of the states and territories to apply and will assist them with administrative expenses incurred from implementing this identity verification requirement for the PUA program and/or assist with enhancing existing identity verification tools and procedures.
On Aug. 31, 2020, the department announced a similar funding opportunity of $100 million to states for fraud prevention activities in the PUA and PEUC programs. States have used these funds to hire additional staff to investigate suspicious claims; to connect with the Unemployment Insurance Integrity Center’s Integrity Data Hub to utilize an identity verification service; to implement integrity tools and software to conduct further identity protections and fraud screening; and to purchase predictive analytics tools/services.
“The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to supporting states as they implement tools and strategies to combat fraud schemes and criminal activity while being responsive and timely in processing legitimate claims,” said Senior Counselor to the Secretary of Labor M. Patricia Smith. “These funds will help strengthen states’ anti-fraud efforts, which are critical for preventing identity theft and ensuring states pay unemployment benefits only to eligible individuals.”
Since the enactment of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act of 2020, state unemployment insurance programs have struggled to balance enormous workloads while simultaneously implementing and administering new programs for workers typically not eligible for benefits. Amid these challenges, criminal organizations have tested the integrity of individual state unemployment systems, quickly exposing vulnerabilities. In recent months, state unemployment programs have detected significantly more fraudulent attacks while new schemes emerge daily.
“Unemployment insurance integrity is a top U.S. Department of Labor priority, and we are partnering with states as they innovate and apply new solutions to combat criminal attacks on their unemployment insurance programs,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Suzi LeVine. “Criminals adapt their fraud techniques routinely, so we must be vigilant and determined to prevent those eager to deprive unemployed Americans of money they desperately need in these difficult times.”
The department remains committed to protecting funds for these critical income support programs, and will pursue efforts to help states prevent and recover fraudulent payments. In addition to the grants announced today, the department will issue new guidance soon to help states recover funds restricted and held by financial institutions as a result of those institutions’ fraud prevention data analytics.
The list of award recipients that received the total of $49 million in new grants is below, and is divided between PUA and PEUC funding. ETA bases these grant amounts on the size of covered employment in each state’s unemployment insurance program.
|Recipient||PUA Funding||PEUC Funding|
|Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands||$210,000|