‘So Hard To Prove You Exist’: Flawed Fraud Protections Deny Unemployment To Millions

Fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits have been a problem for a long time, and states have set up systems to try to prevent such fraud. But lost in that effort is arguably a bigger problem: Some of those systems have hurt millions of innocent people, keeping the benefits they deserve in limbo.

News Story (California, NATIONAL)

Chris Arnold
National Public Radio (NPR)
October 14, 2020

Tags: COVID-19, Unemployment, Unemployment Insurance


Here’s what the strike team discovered. Minor discrepancies — like someone using their middle initial in applying for benefits when their full middle name appeared on their driver’s license or Social Security card — would send up a red flag for potential fraud. And then the person would be required to provide additional “identity verification.” That would mean a manual review by workers swamped with 10 times the normal number of claims.

“If you applied for unemployment assistance, you had a 40% chance of getting flagged for manual processing,” Pahlka says. This is what apparently happened to Guasch.

Pahlka found many other people suffered through similar agonizing delays.