NMDWS Cracks Down on Improper Unemployment Insurance Payments
State now leads the nation in reducing improper UI payments
For Immediate Release
November 27, 2012
Contact: Joy Forehand
For media inquiries: 505.250.3926
(Albuquerque, NM) – The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions (NMDWS) has cut the state’s improper Unemployment Insurance payment rate by more than half – the highest drop in the country. Between fiscal years 2011 and 2012, New Mexico’s improper payment rate fell from nearly 24% to under 11%. NMDWS also cut the UI fraud rate as well, from around 6% in FY2011 to around 5% in FY2012.
“I am so proud that our Department of Workforce Solutions is a national leader in reducing fraud and improper payments in state unemployment insurance programs,” said Governor Susana Martinez. “The progress NMDWS has made since the beginning of our administration is a testament to our commitment to cracking down on fraud and strengthening New Mexico’s UI program for businesses and workers.”
Cabinet Secretary Celina Bussey said the decreases in the improper payment and fraud rates are just the beginning of a new trend that will see these rates decline even lower. “We have many more initiatives planned for 2013 that will further strengthen the integrity of New Mexico’s Unemployment Insurance program and ensure that critical UI payments go to those who truly qualify for them.”
On January 6, 2013, New Mexico will become the first state in the nation to launch a fully-integrated Unemployment Insurance Tax and Claims system. The new system is designed to meet the high standards and needs of both businesses and job seekers, and will include enhancements to prevent, detect, and recover improper UI payments. This includes automated, technology-based tools such as the State Information Data Exchange System (SIDES), an information-sharing platform between NMDWS and employers that will expedite correspondence about employment separation that is necessary for timely and correct UI payments.
Other system enhancements include the Treasury Offset Program (TOPS) and the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH). TOPS is a partnership with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to intercept, or offset, federal tax refunds and federal payments for state tax obligations, including the recovery of UI benefits that were overpaid to individuals. Any amounts intercepted and recouped will be deposited directly back into the New Mexico Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.
The NDNH will enable New Mexico’s new UI system to automate cross-matches between state and national databases. This will help increase the detection of potential fraud by claimants who continue to certify and receive benefits after they have returned to work. A federal grant will also help the state increase integration between other UI systems and NMDWS’s Employment Services systems and processes, which will enable enhanced monitoring and enforcement of claimant registration and participation in reemployment services.
The U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) (www.dol.gov) annually releases improper UI payment rates for all 50 states. These rates are determined by the Benefit Accuracy Measurement (BAM) program and are used to assist state and federal UI programs with identifying errors and abuse in UI programs. BAM investigations are based on a review of the records of a sample group of claimants, selected each week at random, to test the accuracy of UI decisions to issue or deny the payment of UI benefits for a key week. New Mexico’s sample size is usually around 480 cases per year.
In addition to improving the integrity of the Unemployment Insurance program in New Mexico, Secretary Bussey continues to engage the Department of Workforce Solutions with the business community and to promote the vast array of employment-related services and resources available to job seekers across the state. Secretary Bussey has helped to make the department a national leader in these areas and to facilitate a more competitive workforce for the benefit of all New Mexicans.
For additional information about New Mexico’s Unemployment Insurance program and the Department of Workforce Solutions, visit www.dws.state.nm.us.