Unemployment insurance is an important government-run public benefit available to Americans who become unemployed through no fault of their own. Unemployment insurance gives its beneficiaries continued financial stability and has helped keep individuals and families afloat during gaps in employment as they actively search for their next job.
As of April 2017, there were 2 million Americans claiming unemployment benefits. To be eligible to receive these benefits, a claimant has to meet a certain set of criteria. For example, the majority of incarcerated individuals are ineligible to receive unemployment benefits.
When a state is monitoring such a large population of claimants, there is room for fraudulent activity. Although there are measures in place to research each claim filed, most workforce agencies do not have the time or the staff to scrutinize each claim to the maximum extent needed to determine fraudulent activity, resulting in payments to ineligible beneficiaries.
Unemployment eligibility fraud is a $4.1 billion problem in the U.S. While only a certain percentage of this overspend is related to improper payments made to incarcerated individuals, it still provides clear incentive for working to reduce overpayments.
Appriss operates the nation’s most comprehensive and current criminal justice data network. We have the ability to alert customers, in real time, when a person of interest is booked into jail. And, since unemployment agencies are seeking to reduce improper payments to ineligible beneficiaries (e.g., incarcerated individuals), we knew we would be great partners. After several pilots, trials, proofs of concept, and subsequent implementations with entitlement agencies nation-wide, our results have shown, across the board, that we do, in fact, have a lot of benefit to add in this space.
One such agency reaping these benefits today is the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions (NMDWS).
NMDWS had a department-wide initiative to implement a new solution that would reduce the prevalence of improper payments made to ineligible beneficiaries. A proof of concept was designed, in which NMDWS sent Appriss a file of 44,000 beneficiaries covering a one-year period to cross-match against our incarceration records. The results were nothing less than staggering.
There was found to be potentially $905,698 overpaid to 305 claimants. That is $2,970 per ineligible claimant in one year!! Almost a million dollars could have been saved that year through Appriss’ Incarceration Intelligence solution.
NMDWS immediately partnered with Appriss to implement a permanent solution. The implementation began as a two-pronged solution that was historical and forward-looking in nature:
- Historical: NMDWS looked to Appriss to complete a one-year historical cross match (June 2016 – June 2017) of NMDWS claimants and Appriss incarceration data to see if they could recoup and assets lost to improper payments to incarcerated individuals (~50,000 claims).
- Forward-looking: The most primary of NMDWS’ needs are preventative. They look to Appriss to stop fraudulent payments before the claim is processed and paid out.
The results of this partnership, while still fairly new, continue to astonish NMDWS staff.
That sounds like #knowledgeforgood!