Federally mandated changes to the state-run unemployment system will be rolling into effect over the next 6 months as the October 2013 deadline looms, forcing employers to comply with stricter administration standards or face high penalties. UST helps member nonprofits comply to avoid costly errors.
In an effort to reduce potential penalties for its nonprofit employer members, the Unemployment Services Trust (UST) has launched several new efforts and technological tools to help address what is being called the federal “UI Integrity mandate.”
Passed as a part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act of 2011, the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Integrity mandate requires all employers to provide a complete and timely response to the state’s first request for information about an unemployment claim. Designed to address one of the biggest weaknesses of Unemployment Insurance (UI) funds nationwide—the persistence of unemployment benefits paid in error, which are have cost $10.3 billion in the last year—the UI Integrity Act requires full compliance from all states no later than October 21, 2013. As of today, 5 states (NE, OK, MS, IL, and WV) have enacted legislation with 6 additional states (CA, UT, NM, SD, MN, and NC) passing legislation to be enacted in the coming months. 12 states (WA, OR, ID, MT, WY, CO, AZ, ND, IA, LA, KY, and VA) have pending legislation. The remaining states have yet to take any action to meet the federal deadline.
To ensure that the reform yields the necessary savings, there will be penalties on employers for non-compliance. Any employer that fails to provide a complete and timely response to a claim loses any hope of relief from charges attributable to that claim—even if the employer ultimately wins the claim.
Further, if the state identifies a pattern of failure to provide complete and timely responses, negligent organizations and their claims administrator are at risk of permanently losing valuable protest rights and/or facing monetary penalties.
To address these new liabilities, the Unemployment Services Trust (UST), which helps more than 2,000 nonprofit employers nationwide to reduce the cost of unemployment claims, is conducting regional seminars and state-specific webinars for its members. Through its partnership with Equifax Workforce Solutions (WS), UST’s educational opportunities will allow its nonprofit members to examine how changes to the national UI integrity laws will affect them and to gather helpful tips to improve overall win ratios when protesting improper claims. On average, this type of diligence reduces an employer’s claims costs by 15% each year.
In addition to the seminars and webinars, UST’s nonprofit members now have access to a unique unemployment claim dashboard called CaseBuilder, which was launched by WS earlier this year. “This online dashboard will allow organizations to gather and submit documents and details in a fast, secure environment for all stages of the unemployment process,” reports Workforce Solutions. Current members who utilize CaseBuilder have significantly increased their ability to comply with state requests in a timely manner—which will be extremely pertinent as states begin to integrate UI Integrity legislation into their practices.
Finally, members of UST are already reaping the benefits of “SIDES,” the State Information Data Exchange System that 24 states have implemented, with more scheduled throughout 2013. SIDES is a secure, paperless system which allows UST members and their claims administrator WS to better provide necessary details and documentation at the time of an initial claim filing. Here is how it is helping UST member organizations:
- It’s electronic, so it’s more secure than paper documents.
- Electronic delivery of claims from the state will increase the amount of time employers have to respond to requests for separation information.
- SIDES was specifically designed to require details as a part of the response. Providing the details up front will save time by reducing additional requests for information.
“All employers will be on the hook to respond to every unemployment claim, every time,” says Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “We’re trying to establish best practices that ensure our member nonprofits are ahead of the curve—so they can avoid penalties down the road.”
About UST: Founded by nonprofits, for nonprofits, UST is the largest unemployment trust in the nation, providing 501(c)(3) organizations with a safe, cost-effective alternative to paying state unemployment taxes. Equifax Workforce Solutions (WS) is UST’s partner to provide members with claim administration, audits of state charges, and hearing representation if a member’s claims protest goes to court. They also provide educational seminars and training materials to UST member agencies throughout the year. Visit http://www.ChooseUST.org
to learn more.
Unemployment Services Trust