Audit of LWC finds $2.9M in questionable unemployment benefits paid

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s November report found that the Louisiana Workforce Commission made some $2.9 million in payments that potentially violated unemployment benefit program rules.

The auditor found that LWC made state and federal unemployment insurance payments to claimants enrolled in multiple state and federal unemployment insurance programs at the same time between March 2020 and April 2021. This led to almost $900,000 in potentially improper payments, as enrollment in multiple programs is not allowed under federal law.

LWC also made payments exceeding the highest weekly benefit amount set by state and federal law. This led to almost $2 million in potentially incorrect payments between February 2020 and April 2021. 

Additionally, LWC made duplicate payments to claimants for the same benefit week, resulting in another $33,536 in potentially improper payments.

“Overpayments are a normal occurrence, even under typical UI operating circumstances,” writes Ava Cates, secretary of the LWC, in response to the auditor’s findings. “When coupled with the rapid implementation of multiple new programs without the benefit of the usual extensive test controls in place to ensure accuracy and efficiency, the reality is that mistakes are inevitable. However, once an overpayment is established, LWC works hard to recoup those funds through various methods in order to ensure that all available funds are disbursed to those entitled to them.”

State and federal unemployment insurance payments totaled $9.83 billion to 794,515 claimants from March 2020 through July 2021.