The Division of Employment Security (DES) will be expanding the weekly process by which unemployment insurance claimants certify they are eligible for benefits. This is another effort on the Division’s part to strengthen the state’s unemployment insurance program and emphasize a commitment on fraud prevention.
Weekly certification is the process used to verify that the claimant was unemployed during the week and is eligible for benefits. A claimant will need to certify for eligibility for every week that they want to receive a benefit payment. This certification can be filed through the Internet and over the phone.
“Initially, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) recommended to the DES that the number of weekly certification questions be increased,” said DES Assistant Secretary Dempsey Benton. “Adding more questions to the weekly certification process reduces fraud and makes the weekly eligibility requirements clearer for the claimant.”
DES has streamlined the questions and added others which will assist the Division in its ongoing integrity effort.
The number of weekly certification questions will increase from four to 14 in late December. Newer questions include the claimant answering if they understand that they may be prosecuted in a court of law for giving false statements or withholding information and whether or not they have quit a job since filing for benefits.
If a claimant knowingly collects benefits based on false or inaccurate information that they intentionally provided when filing a weekly certification, they are committing fraud. Unemployment Insurance fraud is punishable by law and violators could face a number of serious penalties and consequences.
On December 1, 2012, a new statute became effective stating that if the amount of benefits improperly obtained is more than $400, the claimant as well as any person providing assistance would be charged with a Class I felony. An individual may be punished by imprisonment in the State’s prison system from three to eight months and a fine may also be assessed.