State sent approximately $1M in jobless benefits to dead people, Louisiana auditor says

Published 5:14 pm Monday, June 21, 2021

Louisiana’s labor department paid out about $1 million in state and federal unemployment benefits to people who were dead, though more than half of those payments couldn’t have been prevented, state auditors reported Monday.

Legislative Auditor Mike Waguespack’s office said the improper payments to 374 people after they died represent a tiny percentage — 0.013% — of the $8.6 billion in unemployment benefits paid by the Louisiana Workforce Commission between March 2020 and April 2021.

The auditor’s report said $629,091, sent to 334 people, couldn’t have been stopped because the benefits were paid before the state received a death report or death certificate.

But auditors said $337,007 in payments to 74 dead people should have been prevented by the Louisiana Workforce Commission’s current controls. Another $123,194 in improper payments could have been prevented if the agency did a weekly, instead of monthly, match with the Louisiana Department of Health’s death data.

In a response to the audit, the Workforce Commission said it’s working to recoup the money and to enhance its cross-checking system. But the agency also noted that its fraud prevention work detected thousands of other deaths, preventing improper payments in those cases.