Tag Archives: unemployment insurance

Do You Know How to Meet Your Work-Search Requirements While Receiving Unemployment Benefits?

People who receive unemployment insurance benefits must meet ongoing requirements while receiving benefits. One of those requirements is to make at least two work-search contacts each week, but not everyone understands how to meet this requirement.

Here are a few tips that will help you to meet the requirements and avoid having your claim for benefits denied.

The Top 10 Things You Need to Know

1. Actively look for work

Almost everyone collecting unemployment insurance benefits is required to actively look for work each week.

In very few cases, some people may not be required to look for work if they are scheduled to return to full-time employment soon, and they are considered to be job attached. Never assume you are job attached or are not required to look for work. If you think these situations may apply to you, please call a claim specialist at (208) 332-8942.

Unless you have specifically been told that you do not have to actively look for work, you are required to look for a full-time job. In fact, you are required to make two valid work search contacts each week you file a claim for unemployment benefits.

You MUST comply with the work-search requirements you agreed to when you completed your online application. These requirements can be viewed, and verified, online at our Claimant Portal. Log in to your account at labor.idaho.gov/claimantportal, and then go to Manage Claims to view this information.

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Ten Tips to Avoid Unemployment Insurance Fraud

Protect yourself from unemployment insurance fraud and make sure your benefits arrive on time by following these tips.

  1. File your own initial claim and weekly certifications. Never let anyone else submit your application or weekly certifications on your behalf and never share your password.
  2. Report all former employers. When you apply, report every former employer and why you left, regardless of how long you were employed.
  3. Report all gross wages. Report all wages before tax and deductions each week. Include cash, check, barter and part-time or temporary work including work you do for family and friends.
  4. Register for work at idahoworks.gov. Search for jobs, create resumes and receive job alerts by email—all free.
  5. Actively look for work. Make at least two work-search contacts per week or benefits may be denied.
  6. Be able, available and willing to work. Avoid penalties and charges. Report if you are not able, available or willing to accept work for the entire week claimed.
  7. Keep your address current. Keep your address current and read your mail. You’ll receive several letters outlining what you need to do. If you ignore these letters you could lose your benefits.
  8. Going back to work full time? Stop filing for benefits! If you continue to collect benefits after you’ve gone back to work full time, even if only until your first paycheck arrives, you will be required to repay benefits, plus penalties and interest, and you could face criminal charges.
  9. Be honest. Ignoring the rules or providing false information leads to serious monetary penalties, loss of benefits for one year and possibly jail time.
  10. Know your responsibilities and ask for help. Contact the Idaho Department of Labor at (208) 332-8942.

 

 

Investigations, Recovery Rates of 124% Discourage Unemployment Insurance Fraud

Investigators at the Idaho Department of Labor say they hear every excuse in the book – from ridiculous to outright outrageous – when it comes to claimants who commit unemployment insurance fraud.

  • A claimant suggests a power surge is causing her computer to answer questions incorrectly on her unemployment insurance reports.
  • One claimant simply says he forgot he even has a job. And since he doesn’t remember his job he thinks the next logical step is to file for unemployment.
  • Another claimant suggests he lost his job due to drug use and that drug use is responsible for the errors the Department of Labor found when he filed a claim.

And while these examples may seem silly on the surface, the Idaho Department of Labor takes fraud seriously.

“We actively look for and we do a pretty good job of discovering instances of unemployment insurance fraud,” said Larry Ingram, bureau chief for the Idaho Department of Labor.

Last November, an Eagle man learned the hard way. Jesse David Aldape, 39, received a felony conviction after it was discovered he illegally obtained nearly $9,000 in unemployment insurance benefits. Aldape’s sentence included 45 days in a county jail, 100 days of community service and restitution in the amount of $8,903 to the Idaho Department of Labor.

Another example illustrates just how devastating unemployment insurance fraud can be: Once it was discovered a recent claimant and new employee continued to file for unemployment benefits after starting a new job, the employer terminated the new employee because he didn’t want an untrustworthy worker in his shop. The claimant then tried to file for unemployment, but was denied benefits for at least 52 weeks as a result of committing unemployment fraud.

“Too often, people need the money and think they will just pay us back,” said Josh McKenna, benefits bureau chief at the Idaho Department of Labor. “But it’s not that simple. We charge penalties and interest on top of the fraud. Plus, we deny them benefits for one year and until they pay us the overpayment, penalties and interest.”

That’s why McKenna emphasizes unemployment fraud is a significant issue – and the issues surrounding it are commonly misunderstood.                                                              

“We often hear people say they are entitled to unemployment benefits because they pay into it,” McKenna said. “But unemployment insurance taxes are not deducted from employee paychecks. Those taxes are actually paid by employers.”

Meanwhile, the department continues to vigorously use all of its resources to uncover fraud.

“There’s always plenty of work to do,” Ingram said. “Are we getting better with our data-mining activities? Yes, we are. We have a very aggressive and successful program for identifying fraud and recovering benefit overpayments,” he added. “We also have a high recovery rate.

Between July of 2015 and June of 2016 nearly $4.1 million of the $119 million paid in unemployment insurance benefits were improperly collected by claimants due to fraud and overpayments. Of that, Ingram’s team recovered 124 percent – or nearly $5.13 million, which includes some receivables from prior years.

Ingram emphasizes employers can play a key role in helping to reduce fraud.

“One of the biggest ways employers can help is by notifying the Labor Department in a timely manner whenever they hire someone new,” he said.

Jennifer Souza, a fraud investigator with Idaho Department of Labor, agrees.

“Our computer runs a cross-match against people who are claiming benefits,” Souza said. “It’s pretty hard not to get caught.”

At the same time, she said fraud is easy to prevent, and honesty is the best policy for people filing for unemployment insurance.

“From the time someone opens a claim to each week they file, they receive warnings and are asked very specific, simple and straightforward questions.”

McKenna agrees: “The best thing someone can do if they don’t know the answer or how to report correctly is to ask. Asking for help can prevent large overpayments and penalties that must be paid back to the department.”

Claim specialists can be reached at (208) 332-8942, by using a Click to Chat feature or by emailing. More information, including answers to frequently asked questions can be found at labor.idaho.gov/uifaqs.

The bottom line? Fraud is a preventable offense – and it benefits the whole state of Idaho when it doesn’t happen in the first place.

“It’s an important message,” Ingram said. “I’d much rather see prevention as opposed to punishment.”

Learn more about preventing or avoiding unemployment insurance fraud at http://labor.idaho.gov/dnn/idl/UnemploymentInsurance/UnemploymentBenefits/Fraud.aspx

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Benefits of Reporting ‘Hours’ on Quarterly UI Tax Reports

UI-screenshot

 

Idaho employers using the Department of Labor’s online electronic system for reporting wages can now include employee hours in their quarterly reports.

A 2014 survey of employers and other stakeholders uncovered several benefits to businesses and their employees from reporting hours such as:

  • Reducing/consolidating employer reporting requirements.
  • Reducing unemployment insurance fraud.
  • Improving corporate hiring and retention practices.
  • Helping employers set competitive wages.
  • Aligning employer demands for labor with education and workforce training initiatives.
  • Developing more effective education and training programs.
  • Greater accountability in public spending on education and training programs.
  • Providing consumer information for improved decision making.
  • Increasing knowledge and understanding about local, regional and state labor markets.

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Understanding Your Unemployment Insurance Tax Responsibilities Including Form 1099-G

Note: Dates throughout the article have been updated to 2016. All other information remains the same.

When you receive unemployment benefits from the Idaho Department of Labor, it is important to understand your responsibilities at tax time. Here are some answers to common questions regarding unemployment insurance and taxes.

Are unemployment insurance benefits taxable?1099 form_general

Unemployment insurance benefits are taxable, and if you collected or repaid unemployment insurance benefits in 2016, you are required to file a tax return for payments received or repaid. This information is reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

What do I need from the Idaho Department of Labor to file my taxes?

By the end of January, you should receive a 1099-G statement in the mail which shows the total taxable unemployment compensation issued to you from the State of Idaho for a calendar year.

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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Claimant Portal

The Idaho Department of Labor launched a new Claimant Portal in November. The Claimant Portal is a secure online application that claimants use to apply for unemployment insurance benefits, file weekly certification applications (previously called continued claim reports) and view claimant information.

The updated application offers new features to allow claimants to access information about their unemployment claim and weekly certifications (previously called continued claims) online.

Here are answers to frequently asked questions:

How do I get started on the new Claimant Portal?

The first step is to begin a New User Registration in the Claimant Portal. To begin this registration visit labor.idaho.gov/ClaimantPortal and click on New User Registration.

claimant_portal

For more detailed instructions on how to apply for unemployment insurance benefits, follow this guide.

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Labor to Launch Redesigned Application for Unemployment Claimants

The Idaho Department of Labor is launching a new claimant portal on Thursday, Nov. 12. The claimant portal is a new, secure online application that claimants use to file for unemployment insurance benefits, file weekly continued claim reports, and view claim information.  

Q. What is the new claimant portal?

A. It is a user-friendly Web-based application where claimants manage their unemployment benefits accounts. The updated application offers new features to allow claimants to access information about their unemployment claim and weekly continued claims (now called certifications) online.

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