How access to real-time incarceration data helps states prevent and recover improper unemployment insurance payments

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, state audits unveiled millions of dollars in improper unemployment payments.

That problem worsened significantly over the last year, as state workforce agencies dealt with unprecedented increases in unemployment insurance (UI) claims.

According to the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General, state unemployment insurance programs have “paid improperly” an estimated 10%, or $89 billion of the $896 billion in federal funds they were allocated since March 2020.

Just what is an improper payment?

One possible scenario is someone who is receiving unemployment benefits, then is incarcerated, and continues to receive benefits from the agency. This happens because the incarcerated person has no way to “tell” the agency that benefits should be paused after incarceration, but is not purposefully defrauding the agency. 

Fraud, on the other hand, takes place when an individual or group is intentionally gaming the system. That could be in the form of an overseas crime ring, or a claim intentionally filed by or in the name of a person who is incarcerated, with or without their knowledge. Numerous states, including California, are currently battling this issue. 

Access to real-time, nationwide incarceration data is instrumental in mitigating improper payments made to incarcerated individuals. Appriss Insights works with more than 15 state workforce agencies to identify improper UI overpayments using incarceration data.

Appriss Insights operates the nation’s most comprehensive incarceration data network, with direct jail management system interfaces to nearly 3,000 jails and DOC facilities. Our Incarceration Intelligence solution gives agencies access to accurate, real-time data that allows staff to quickly search for, locate, and monitor claimants, with the end goal of identifying potential fraudulent claims and avoiding future improper payments.

Agencies are able to place “watches” on their claimant lists, and receive alerts when a claimant is:

  • Booked into custody
  • Released from custody
  • Incarcerated for a certain “length of stay”

In many states we support, we continuously monitor the agency’s active claimant list, so that its staff is alerted, in real time, when a claimant is booked into custody. Real-time notifications allow the agency to stop the majority of improper payments before they are paid.

Usage of our incarceration intelligence of has increased nearly eight-fold among state customers since COVID-19 began. That includes:

  • A 683% increase in overall searches against our incarceration database from UI agencies between 2019 and 2020.  
  • An increase of more than 1000% in six states.
  • An increase of more than 2500% in three states.

It’s also important to note that some fraudulent UI claims are being filed using the identity of an incarcerated individual without their knowledge. As these individuals are released from jail or prison and work to rejoin society by securing employment, health care, and housing, they face the additional burden of addressing identity theft and other criminal activity.

Appriss Insights works with state entitlement programs to ensure continuity of benefits and successful post-incarceration transitions. This helps state Medicaid agencies to ensure that behavioral and mental health treatment plans continue uninterrupted, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) agencies to expedite enrollment and enable immediate access to nutrition, and child support agencies to reduce uncollectible debt and foster strong family relationships.

Results for states using incarceration intelligence to prevent improper UI payments has included cost savings and recovery of funds lost through previous improper payments. Collectively, our workforce agency customers conduct over 48 million searches and prevent more than $200 million in improper payments each year.

Learn more

Appriss Insights' Incarceration Intelligence solutions give state workforce agencies access to accurate, timely data that helps identify and cease fraudulent and improper unemployment insurance benefit payments. 

Jarrod Carnahan, Senior Market Manager, Justice and Incarceration Intelligence


Jarrod Carnahan, Senior Market Manager, Justice and Incarceration Intelligence

Jarrod Carnahan has been working with Appriss Insights since 2019, positioning the organization as a leader in reducing fraud, waste, and abuse. He partners with states to improve the quality and efficiency of state assistance programs, including Medicaid, Child Support, Unemployment Insurance, and SNAP. Previously, Jarrod worked with Appriss’s VINE products, expanding resources for victims of crime nationwide. Jarrod has a background in providing consultative services and holds a B.A. degree from the University of Kentucky.

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