The Dead, State Workers Drew Unemployment Benefits

Since July 2011, at least seven people who had died were issued unemployment checks by the state of Tennessee, to the tune of about $12,000 in unemployment payments, reports the Tennessean in giving some details of problems in the system.
But it’s not just the deceased that a state audit found were being paid benefits by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. It also found that 24 state employees were getting paid unemployment benefits — while still working for the state of Tennessee.
Those findings were among several alarming entries in a scathing audit detailing the overpayment of about $73 million in jobless benefits and other systemic problems with the state’s unemployment system.
For instance, administrative delays in the state Labor Department meant many employers were unable to challenge unemployment claims by former employees and wound up getting charged too much in unemployment premiums paid to the state.
Three of the department’s top officials, including former Commissioner Karla Davis, resigned shortly before the audit was released.
…The department, for its part, has begun trying to recoup the money and has forwarded some of the cases on to federal authorities for possible prosecution for fraud. Officials there say they also have tightened their procedures to try to prevent these problems from happening again.
“In the short time the new interim commissioner, Burns Phillips, has been here, there has a tangible shift in the work environment, not only in addressing the audit findings, but also creating an atmosphere where employees can affect change,” said Jeff Hentschel, spokesman for the department. “Employers, our clients and the general public will see positive results in the coming months.”

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