Unemployment Update – End of Expanded Benefits and Fraud
May 11, 2021
Expanded unemployment benefits, a boon for many including real estate agents during COVID-related lay-offs and office closures, are drawing to a close, as available jobs grow and reports of unemployment fraud multiply. Keep reading for an update on unemployment and what to do if you believe you have received a fraudulent unemployment claim.
Expanded Unemployment Ending
Governor Ivey recently announced that Alabama would no longer receive and provide the expanded federal benefits after June 19, 2021. This includes the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) that real estate agents were eligible to receive as self-employed or independent agents. According to the Governor, the action is based on the large number of jobs available on the Alabama Department of Labor’s job portal. You can read the Governor’s press release here for more information.
Reports of fraudulent unemployment claims are widespread in Alabama. These fraudulent claims come in a variety of ways, and associations, real estate companies, brokers, and agents need to be aware and wary. Please note that when this article refers to employer/employee it also includes real estate company/independent contractor.
Fraudulent claims start like any other unemployment claim with an application for unemployment to the Alabama Department of Labor (ADOL) filed by the allegedly unemployed. When the application is received, ADOL processes it and sends a notice (BEN-241) to the former employer listed on the application, requesting verification of past employment of the claimant. For a fraudulent claim, the employer may note one of several things wrong, either the named employee never worked there or the employee still works there.
- Employer: When an employer receives a BEN-241 for a fraudulent claim, respond in one of the three methods (fax, online, or mail) noted at the top, although faxing or online is usually the best since the deadline is often the next day. If the claimant/employee has never worked for you, write “never employed here” or something similar on the lines after section 14. If the claimant/employee is still employed, you can leave the “Last Date Worked” in section 11 blank and note next to section 13 that the employee is still employed. The employer should not file a notice of suspected fraud or identity theft on behalf of the employee.
- Employee: Employees who are subject to suspected fraud or identity theft in an unemployment claim should follow this link to report it. The employee may discover the fraud by receiving either a notice of an unemployment claim in your name that you did not file or a 1099-G from ADOL for unemployment insurance for which you did not file or did not receive. Your employer may also receive a BEN-241 in your name when you still work there.
You can find more information on unemployment fraud in an Alabama news article here, from the U.S. Department of Labor here, and the IRS here.