Inspector General Says $191 Billion Of Covid Unemployment Benefits Potentially Fraudulent

(Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

James Lynch Contributor
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A government watchdog testified to Congress about an estimated $191 billion of potentially fraudulent unemployment benefits delivered during the covid pandemic.

Larry Turner, inspector general for the Labor Department (DOL), testified about unemployment fraud to the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday. The committee conducted a hearing about unchecked unemployment fraud with Turner and other government watchdogs.

Turner estimated 21.52% of total federal and state unemployment benefits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 were paid improperly, according to the testimony. (RELATED: REPORT: Watchdog Finds Over $5 Billion In Potential Covid Relief Fraud)

“Applying the estimated 21.52 percent improper payment rate to the approximate $888 billion in pandemic UI expenditures, at least $191 billion in pandemic UI payments could have been improper payments, with a significant portion attributable to fraud,” Turner testified.

Turner provides oversight of DOL programs such as unemployment benefits, which are administered by states and overseen by the DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA).

His estimate of improper covid unemployment payments is based on ETA data reported in December 2022 from the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) in the CARES Act.

Turner testified that the improper payment rate for pandemic unemployment programs was “likely higher” than 21.52% because it does not include the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) under the CARES Act. The ETA will report the estimated rate of improper PUA payments in 2023.