Georgians Returning to Work and Failing to Report Wages Are Committing Fraud
Atlanta, GA – According to a Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) report, in the past five months, almost 10,000 Georgians have returned to work, but continued to request unemployment insurance (UI) benefits without reporting new wages earned. Per state and federal law, an individual must report gross wages (earnings before taxes and other deductions) for each week you work and claim unemployment benefits. The GDOL utilizes a quarterly wage cross-match system that alerts the agency to wages reported by employers, but not reported by claimants. Employers pay unemployment taxes that fund UI benefits when they file quarterly wage reports.
"It’s good to see Georgians go back to work, but it is critical that employees report these wages to us to avoid overpayments and potential legal action," said Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. "Reporting false information on your weekly certifications is against the law and we are required to investigate any instances of potential fraud identified during wage cross-matches."
Each week claimants are asked to certify if they were able and available for work, if they refused any work offered during the week, and if they worked or earned any wages. If a claimant selects "No" for the question regarding work and wages, he/she is self-attesting that those answers are truthful and correct. If a quarterly wage cross-match or an employer new hire report shows that this information is not factual, the claimant will be contacted to provide additional information on the wages and work history. If the GDOL determines a claimant was paid unemployment benefits he/she should not have received, it is considered an overpayment and the claimant will be required to repay the money, including any income taxes that were withheld. The overpayment will be categorized as non-fraud (caused by an unintentional act) or fraudulent overpayment (caused when a claimant intentionally makes false statements, fails to disclose a material fact, or misrepresents material facts to obtain or increase benefits). Overpayments must be paid back to GDOL and may include civil or criminal penalties, disqualification of future UI benefits and even incarceration.
"We have paid over $19 billion in UI benefits working daily for almost a year to make sure eligible claimants are receiving weekly payments," said Commissioner Butler. "We are now having to address potential fraud on a phenomenal scale due to some claimants failing to disclose wages and additional work history. This is simply slowing down the process for those we may need to individually address to resolve their claim."
Today, over 190,000 jobs are listed on Employ Georgia for Georgians to access. These listings could include multiple positions for each job indicating a much higher number of jobs available. The GDOL offers online resources for finding a job, building a resume, and assisting with other reemployment needs. Resources for reemployment assistance along with information on filing an unemployment claim and details on how employers can file partial claims can be found on the agency's webpage at dol.georgia.gov.
The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced today that Georgians have received more than $19 billion since March 21 of 2020, more than the past 41 years combined. Last week, the GDOL dispersed over $278 million in unemployment insurance (UI) benefits including regular unemployment insurance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), State Extended Benefits (SEB), and Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) supplements.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in March of last year, the GDOL has processed 4,473,245 regular UI initial claims, more than the combined last nine years prior to the pandemic (4.0 million). Last week, regular UI initial claims totaled 28,387, up 2,940 over the week. Additionally, the agency currently has 340,501 active PUA claims.
The sectors with the most weekly regular UI initial claims processed included Accommodation and Food Services, 5,705, Manufacturing, 3,170, Administrative and Support Services, 3,116, Retail Trade, 2,282, and Construction, 1,957.
The number of initial claims filed throughout the United States for the week ending Feb. 27 was 745,000, an increase of 9,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 736,000.
UI benefits are taxable income and 1099-G tax forms are issued in accordance with federal law to report payments and all taxes withheld during each tax year. If you received a 1099-G tax form and did not file a UI claim yourself or your employer did not file one on your behalf, you may be the victim of UI fraud and should report the incident. Select Report 1099 ID Theft at the bottom and follow the instructions. If you received a 1099-G tax form and returned the benefits or wish to return the benefits, please see detailed instructions on next steps at https://dol.georgia.gov/blog/form-1099-g-tax-information.
For more information on jobs and current labor force data, visit Georgia LaborMarket Explorer to view a comprehensive report.