A new bill has been introduced into Congress that would give the state workforce agencies more tools to investigate and prevent unemployment fraud. Improper payments made during the pandemic range from an estimated $191 to $400 billion, yet only an estimated $5 billion has been recovered. This proposed legislation would allow states to retain 25% of funds recovered and use that money to hire staff, modernize their identity and income verification processes, and build out additional program to deter, detect, and prevent improper payments. An additional 5% could be retained by the states for other program integrity activities such as verifying against the National Directory of New Hires and SIDES and taking steps to ensure that incarcerated and deceased individuals are identified before payments are made. The statute of limitations would also be extended from 5 years to 10 years for filing criminal charges or civil actions.
While this bill still has a long way to go before it is enacted, Thomas & Company is watching this pending legislation to make sure that we stay on top of any changes that could impact our employer community.