The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced Thursday organizational changes in two key performance measures that affect unemployment benefit service delivery. The changes are being made to provide greater access to self-service features and a reduced backlog of those who have applied for unemployment.
“These changes have an exponential effect on our service delivery,” said Employment Security Administrator Linda Davis. “Decreasing the backlog means fewer follow-up calls, and opening access to self-service allows callers to directly find the information they need without any delays.”
The unemployment phone system has 600 lines, and like many service centers, the system allows use of a PIN to access a number of self-service functions like changing address or checking the status of a claim.
Previously, if all of the phone lines were taken by claimants in the queue, the system would shut down access to self-service features. The department has since reprogrammed the flow of calls so that self-service lines are available even if all claims center staff are engaged with customers. Self-service usage has increased from 3,467 services in January 2013 to 41,133 services in April 2013. The department has cut the backlog of unemployment decisions in half since last September. At that time, there were 29,000 unemployment claims awaiting decisions; that number has now been reduced to 13,000.
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced today it has collected $15.3 million of fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits as a result of the federal Treasury Offset Program.
The TOP allows garnishment of IRS refunds and other federal payments from those who have collected unemployment benefits fraudulently.
“The ability to reclaim these funds that were fraudulently collected is extremely important to the business community because the health of the Unemployment Trust Fund affects the amount of taxes an employer pays,” Burns Phillips, the labor department’s acting commissioner, said in a release.
The total amount of funds intercepted from the IRS since the beginning of the 2013 tax season is $15,378,715.