State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced today that his office stopped $1.4 million in unemployment payments to recipients who were either employed, dead or unauthorized to work in this country. Nearly $1 million for such claims already had been paid out.
Auditors, who examined state Department of Labor payments during 2011, learned that 42 dead people were paid a total of $11,195. They matched payments against New Yorkers who had be recently hired and found that they had been received $151,372 in overpayments, the report said.
“In these challenging fiscal times, state agencies must watch their spending closely,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “Clearly that isn’t happening when payments are sent to deceased people. We’ve asked the Department of Labor to tighten its controls to stop erroneous payments and make sure unemployment insurance benefits go to the right people.”
Specifically, the comptroller’s report found there were completed or planned payments of:
— $206,034 to individuals who were employed, deceased, or out of the country.
— $149,671 to claimants not authorized to work in the United States.
— $154,474 in overpayments that weren’t recovered because they were misclassified as non-recoverable or the recoupment wasn’t set up.
According to auditors, the Labor Department made $383,304 in erroneous overpayments that the agency didn’t correct because more than a year had gone by. DiNapoli recommended that the Labor Department consider modifying its one-year policy. The change could require legislative action.
The Labor Department paid a total of $7.6 billion to all claimants last year. All payments are subject to audit by DiNapoli’s office prior to being issued.
The agency agreed to tighten its controls and make sure staff follows procedures when processing claims, according to DiNapoli.