Twenty-two states plus Puerto Rico will receive more than $6 million in federal funds to improve security in their unemployment insurance programs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This is the fourth consecutive year that such awards have been made.
The Department of Labor today announced that $6,008,840 will go to 22 states to improve their information system technology. The money will fund programs that
Make it easier to apply for unemployment
Reduce fraudulent unemployment claims
Keep client’s personal information more secure
“Data security improvements implemented with the help of these funds will strengthen the integrity of our state unemployment insurance systems,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Emily Stover DeRocco. “It is more than reasonable that tax-paying workers and employers expect states to continuously improve the performance of their UI systems.”
The awards will promote the use of National Institute of Standards and Technology guidelines to identify and eliminate weaknesses in Unemployment Insurance (UI) systems. These upgrades will make it possible for the states to be security certified and receive accreditation of their security precautions.
This year’s awards go to Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming, and Puerto Rico.
The average award is $261,253.91. However, individual awards vary from $25,000 in Wyoming to $583,637 — more than half a million dollars — in Colorado.
States with the highest awards include California with $494,500, Georgia with $571,726, Iowa with $439,940, and New Hampshire with $474,659. Puerto Rico received $355,500.
States with the lowest awards include Alabama with $99,508, Illinois and Kentucky each with $100,000, Indiana with $122,129, North Dakota with $48,845 and South Carolina with $94,955. A complete listing of states and awards is available from the U.S. Department of Labor website.
Part of the funds are earmarked to correct specific security concerns in several states that were identified through the Federal Information Security Management Act audits conducted by the Office of the Inspector General.
Some of the security enhancements include risk management, contingency planning and improving incident response capability. Others will enhance data center security and data integrity or provide security training and awareness.
In some states, the funds will be used to upgrade hardware and soft ware to increase system security and IT security documentation.
“Unemployment insurance plays a critical role in helping workers persevere through tough times,” said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. “This funding will boost states’ efforts to secure UI systems against fraud and ensure that those in need receive assistance.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor website, Unemployment Insurance benefits businesses, communities and the economy, as well as providing a welcome cushion for workers and their families. Unemployment Insurance was created in 1935 under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, to ease the effects of the Great Depression, when millions of Americans were out of work. The plague of unemployment meant that people couldn’t buy good or services, which contributed to the economies downward spiral.
Unemployment Insurance is a federally mandated program administered by the states. Regulations and benefits vary slightly from state to state. The program is supported by taxes paid by employers.
State Unemployment Insurance programs provide unemployment benefits to eligible workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own, as long as the workers meet certain other eligibility requirements set by state law.
In general, to collect unemployment benefits, one must file weekly or biweekly claims. Any earnings or offers of work should also be reported. In many states these claims are filed by mail or telephone. In some cases, workers can file unemployment claims online.
In order to be eligible for unemployment, a job-seeker must be able to work and actively looking for work. If requested, they must appear at the Unemployment Office on the date and time scheduled. Failure to report may result in benefits being denied.
Job-seekers who file for unemployment are usually required to register with the state employment service. Generally, workers who are 100% disabled do not qualify for unemployment insurance, although in some states they may qualify for short-term disability pay.
In North Dakota, the state officials give new employers 20 days to get their act together and file with them after they first start employing people. That means from the first day of your first employee, you have about three weeks to file with the North Dakota unemployment insurance system to see if you are liable to pay unemployment insurance taxes.
Then once the state determines that you are liable, you have to file a form called the Employer’s Contribution and Wage Reports, each and every quarter that you are liable for unemployment insurance payments. You can do this online at the North Dakota government Web site for those of us in the 21st century when it comes to technology. You can even make payments from your company account through electronic funds transfer. The forms and the payments must be made by the end of the month following the end of the quarter. If you’re late, state officials reserve the right to charge you a penalty fee as well as interest on your taxes.
As in some of the other states that we have looked at, in North Dakota new employers are charged at first the “new employer” tax rate. This rate lasts for at least six quarters if you are a non construction employer, for 10 quarters if you are a construction related employer. After that time period, then you get what is called the experience rated tax rate. That rate is based on how well you performed in the previous year—meaning how well you paid your taxes (on time and to the full amount) and how many of your former employees had been getting unemployment benefits.
If you are not necessarily a new employer but the new owners of a previous business that you bought or acquired, you can ask to have the experience rating tax rate from the previous owner if it was a good one. But if you get that rating, you are also held liable for any benefits payments that that previous owner was making to laid off workers.
If you are planning to file an unemployment insurance claim in North Dakota, you should know that you cannot receive benefits for any week prior to the week you file. So if you want to receive all the monies that are due to you, it is very important that you file your claim as soon as you become unemployed.
I noticed that North Dakota’s unemployment insurance claims can be filed in person at the unemployment insurance claims center or via the Internet. You’ll need some basic information, like your social security number, name and address, and documentation of your military service or Federal service in the past 18 months, alien registration number if you aren’t a citizen, and the name and number of your union hall. You also need to be prepared to answer some questions, like what type of work you’re skilled to do and the wages you are willing to accept.
In addition to these requirements, in order to qualify for North Dakota Unemployment Insurance benefits you need to be available and willing to work. You will have to establish your monetary eligibility by showing income over the past full year. You also will need to show that you became unemployed through no fault of your own.
All of the details about unemployment insurance, as well as other North Dakota and Federal labor laws, are printed onto posters that are available to employers for display in the workplace. These displays help the employers and employees to be aware of the law. I think they also help people to know where and how to file claims, report violations, and so on. By putting the North Dakota labor laws out there in front of everyone, employers keep them aware of changes in the laws, too.
According to North Dakota Unemployment Insurance posters, the Unemployment Insurance Program provides temporary income for persons who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own while they search for new jobs. The intent of the program is not only to protect an unemployed worker’s financial health, but also to help keep main street businesses and a community’s economy stable during periods of high unemployment. Benefit levels are set by the state legislature. Employees will learn by reading North Dakota Unemployment Insurance posters that their benefit amount depends on their past wages.
An employer must file a Report to Determine Liability within 20 days after first employing workers. If you are found to be liable employer, then you are required by law to post North Dakota Unemployment posters in the workplace where they are clearly visible to the employees.
Liable employers must then file an Employer’s Contribution and Wage Report quarterly. The report can be filed electronically. Electronic reporting is more efficient and more accurate. These reports must be completed and returned with the tax due by the end of the month following each calendar quarter. Reports and payments not submitted on time are subject to interest and penalty charges.
When employers become liable for unemployment insurance, they are classified as “new employers” and are assigned a new employer rate. Tax rates are redetermined for each calendar year based on the employer’s history as of the preceding October. If prior to October, “nonconstruction” employers have at least six quarters of coverage and “construction” employers have at least ten quarters of coverage, they are classified as “experience rated employers” beginning that calendar year, otherwise they continue as “new employers”. Experience rated employers are assigned rates based on their record of unemployment insurance taxes paid and benefits charged. The rates vary each year depending on the employer’s individual history and the condition of the state’s unemployment compensation trust fund.
Employers who acquire an existing business may apply for the rate of the previous owner. If the rate is transferred, the new owner is also held accountable for any benefits paid to the previous owner’s workers. The maximum amount of each worker’s wages subject to taxation each year is 70% of the statewide average annual payroll.