West Virginia Mistakenly Pays Millions in Unemployment Benefits


Go directly to jail, DO NOT Pass GO! According to the u, the West Virginia Department of Commerce says overpayments occur because people continue to claim unemployment benefits – even after finding a job. Sounds like fraud to me.

An investigation from the Legislative Auditor’s Office revealed that 30 people in the state’s regional jails and prisons were receiving unemployment benefits. In fact, 30 prisoners filed over 700 weeks of claims and received over $150,000 in benefits. One inmate received 135 weeks of benefits behind bars. Definitely a double-whammy for taxpayers – first they pay for criminals to be in prison, and then they pay inmates’ unemployment benefits!

West Virginia Code requires a person receiving unemployment benefits to be able to work and available for full-time work. Don’t you need a legitimate address to receive benefits from the government? Where’s the follow-up to see if people are really available?

The article states that the Unemployment Compensation Division is planning on doing a yearly cross-match with the Division of Corrections to weed out mistaken payments to inmates. Why is there only going to be a yearly check—aren’t employment checks distributed once a month and aren’t criminals arrested every day?

So the question of the day is…how often is too often to check that your tax dollars are being spent wisely?


Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”West Virginia mistakenly pays millions in unemployment benefits,” by Steven Allen Adams published by the West Virginia Watchdog, September 15, 2011.

West Virginia – According to the Wall Street Journal, $19 billion nationwide was paid out mistakenly through unemployment benefits over the last three years. The $19 billion is just 10 percent of the $180 billion in total unemployment benefits paid out by the State during the same time period.

The report notes 5 percent of West Virginia’s unemployment benefits paid between July 2010 and June 2011 were overpayments. During that time the state paid out over $212 million in benefits, of which $10 million were overpayments. On a three-year average, West Virginia’s overpayments amounted to 6.6 percent of its total payouts

West Virginia’s Legislative Auditor, Aaron Allred, says the state’s Unemployment Compensation Division attributes the mistaken payouts to the fact that people can file for benefits over the phone and online.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.