EMPLOYMENT SECURITY DEPARTMENT
[Filed May 20, 2020, 1:36 p.m., effective May 20, 2020, 1:36 p.m.]
Effective Date of Rule: Immediately upon filing.
Purpose: The rule making is proposed in order to prevent individuals from fraudulently obtaining unemployment benefits. This rule suspends weekly benefit payments to individuals when the department suspects the claim has been fraudulently filed until the end of the following week and requires individuals to respond to a request for information about the suspected fraud. Under the rule, if the department denies benefits prior to the end of the next week, then the suspended payment is also denied. If the department does not deny benefits prior to the end of the next week, then the suspended payment is paid in addition to the regular weekly payment.
Citation of Rules Affected by this Order: New WAC 192-140-096.
Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 50.12.040
Other Authority: Unemployment Insurance Program Letter 1-16, Change 1 (Jan. 13, 2017); Unemployment Insurance Program Letter No. 04-01 (Oct. 27, 2000).
Under RCW 34.05.350
the agency for good cause finds that immediate adoption, amendment, or repeal of a rule is necessary for the preservation of the public health, safety, or general welfare, and that observing the time requirements of notice and opportunity to comment upon adoption of a permanent rule would be contrary to the public interest.
Reasons for this Finding: As a consequence of emergency measures taken in order to combat the spread of COVID-19, including new federal benefits made available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the amount of unemployment benefits paid by the employment security department have risen to unprecedented levels. There has been a significant rise in fraud, particularly, instances of imposter fraud. In the month of April, the department paid $1.6 million in imposter fraud payments. Emergency rules are needed to prevent the further payment of fraudulent benefits and to ensure unemployment benefits are paid only to eligible individuals.
Number of Sections Adopted in Order to Comply with Federal Statute: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; Federal Rules or Standards: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; or Recently Enacted State Statutes: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0.
Number of Sections Adopted at the Request of a Nongovernmental Entity: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0.
Number of Sections Adopted on the Agency's own Initiative: New 1, Amended 0, Repealed 0.
Number of Sections Adopted in Order to Clarify, Streamline, or Reform Agency Procedures: New 1, Amended 0, Repealed 0.
Number of Sections Adopted using Negotiated Rule Making: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; Pilot Rule Making: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; or Other Alternative Rule Making: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0.
Date Adopted: May 20, 2020.
WAC 192-140-096What happens if the department suspects my claim is fraudulent?
(1) Starting with the week ending May 16, 2020, if the department discovers it has reason to suspect that your claim has been fraudulently filed, the department will:
(a) Send you a request for information about the suspected fraud; and
(b) For the week in which the department discovered it had reason to suspect your claim has been fraudulently filed, suspend payment of your weekly benefit until the end of the week following the discovery. If you have asked to backdate your claim, and the department has not yet paid the weekly benefit for those backdated weeks, the department will also suspend payment of the weekly benefits for those backdated weeks until the end of the week following the discovery.
(2) If you do not respond to the request for information about the suspected fraud:
(a) The department will presume you are either not eligible or disqualified from receiving benefits and will deny benefits; and
(b) This denial will last for an indefinite period of time; and
(c) Once you provide the requested information, the department will issue a redetermination under RCW 50.20.160
allowing benefits if you provide enough information to establish your claim was not fraudulently filed and you are otherwise eligible and qualified to receive benefits. If the information provided is insufficient to show the claim was not fraudulently filed, the department will not issue a redetermination under RCW 50.20.160
(3) If the department has suspended payment of your weekly benefits pursuant to subsection (1)(b) of this section and the department has issued a determination denying benefits prior to the end of the following week, then the department will not pay the suspended weekly benefits.
(4) If the department has suspended payment of your weekly benefits pursuant to subsection (1)(b) of this section and the department has not issued a determination denying benefits prior to the end of the following week, the department will pay the suspended weekly benefits by a payment method of the department's choosing.
(5) An individual in whose name a claim is fraudulently filed by an imposter is not responsible to repay sums improperly paid on the claim and the fraudulent claim does not affect the individual's eligibility for benefits. A claim is fraudulently filed by an imposter when someone else files a claim using another individual's personal and employment information without the individual's knowledge or consent.