Washington, DC – Today, the Senate joined the U.S. House of Representatives in passing legislation which included provisions designed to improve the collection of unemployment insurance overpayments and take steps to prevent incarcerated individuals from receiving government benefits while in jail. Both provisions built off of legislation developed by the Human Resources Subcommittee of the Committee on Ways and Means. Under Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Dave Reichert (R-WA), the Subcommittee has placed an important focus on improving the program integrity of unemployment insurance and other government benefit programs.
“I am proud our Senate colleagues have joined us in passing legislation that will give Americans the first government budget passed by both houses of Congress since 2009. Rather than across-the-board cuts, the agreement takes important steps to eliminate government waste, fraud, and abuse. The bill includes provisions based on our work in the Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee that will improve the collection of unemployment insurance overpayments and take steps to make sure that inmates aren’t receiving government benefits while in jail,” said Reichert.
The first provision requires all States to offset Federal income tax refunds to recover Unemployment Insurance overpayments that are the fault of the claimant. Currently, 36 States participate in this offset effort. CBO estimates the expansion of that effort reflected in this provision will reduce the deficit by $159 million over 10 years.
This provision was previously included by the Subcommittee in the Promoting Adoption and Legal Guardianship for Children in Foster Care Act, a bipartisan bill to extend and improve the Adoption Incentives Program, which passed the House by a vote of 402 to 0 on October 22, 2013.
The second provision improves the Social Security Administration’s Prisoner Update Processing System (PUPS) to better identify, prevent, and recover improper payments. PUPS is a system that was developed by SSA to gather data from Federal, State and local prisons to prevent incarcerated individuals from receiving Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits. Under this provision, additional data elements will be required so that the information can better prevent the payment of benefits to prisoners under other programs. CBO estimates this provision will reduce direct spending by $80 million over 10 years.
In July 2013, Chairman Reichert introduced H.R. 2826, the Permanently Ending Receipt by Prisoners Act, also known as the PERP Act, to formally prevent incarcerated individuals from receiving UI benefits using the PUPS system. The Human Resources Subcommittee subsequently held a hearing about this issue in September 2013.