FRANKFORT, KY (9/30/13) – Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Tom Zawacki today announced Kentucky has been awarded $2,729,039 in federal funding to improve program integrity and technology in the state’s unemployment insurance (UI) system. The funds will help Kentucky develop new or enhanced systems to reduce UI fraud.
“These funds will increase our ability to prevent overpayments and enhance operational efficiencies in preventing, detecting and recovering fraudulent payments,” said Sec. Zawacki.
The grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), will be administered through the Office of Employment and Training (OET), an agency of Kentucky’s Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.
In order to have qualified for the funding, states must have implemented or committed to implement all of the required integrity activities as established by USDOL. These strategies include identifying areas of weakness that may contribute to improper payments and designing ways to improve performance; promoting the State Information Data Exchange System; implementing technology-based tools designed to prevent improper UI payments and continuing the operation of a Cross-Functional Integrity Task Force.
Kentucky currently uses various methods to detect fraud, including random audits, computerized cross matches and anonymous tips. There are six regional fraud investigators who check leads, verify audits and work with local prosecutors to bring criminal charges.
A fraudulent payment of $100 or more is a felony punishable by a jail sentence; requirement to repay the amount received with interest; and other penalties imposed by the court or the UI division, including disqualification from the program for a period of time for which one would otherwise be entitled to benefits; and the placement of a lien.
The most common cases of fraud involve people who are working while receiving benefits or those who do not actively seek work. A claimant collecting benefits must report any work, even a temporary job, to the UI office. An intentional failure to do so is fraud. A growing source of criminal charges stems from people who purposely give false or incomplete information when they apply for benefits.
Information provided by Cathy Lindsey
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