Rick Scott Demands Answers on Any Abuses of Enhanced Jobless Benefits

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., wants to know what the Labor Department is doing to combat and detect fraud and abuse of enhanced federal unemployment benefits.

He made his request in a Wednesday letter to Larry Turner, acting inspector general for the Labor Department

“Last week, I sent a letter to U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh requesting information on the department’s plans to combat fraud and abuse of enhanced federal unemployment benefits,” he wrote. “As our nation works to reopen and get Americans back on the job, many small businesses in Florida and across the nation are struggling to hire enough people to meet demand and keep their doors open due to enhanced unemployment benefits.

“While I am encouraged to see the Office of Inspector General (OIG) is initiating an audit of the department’s oversight of Unemployment Insurance (UI) integrity activities, there is still work to do, and your attention to this matter is of the utmost importance.

“I understand that current law prohibits workers who refuse suitable work from receiving unemployment benefits. Current law also prohibits workers from remaining on unemployment simply because benefits pay them more than what they would earn after returning to work. My expectation is that the department, and your office, continue to do everything possible to help Americans that are struggling while ensuring the integrity of the UI system and that all laws are being followed.”

In the letter, Scott outlined questions that he wants answered.

  • “What is the department’s approach to actively identifying incidences of fraud where people, who have refused a suitable offer of work, continue to receive unemployment benefits in violation of current law?
  • “What controls have been put in place to prevent and curb fraud within this new federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program?  
  • “What actions has the Department taken, or plans to take, to improve accountability and oversight across the entire unemployment benefit system and reduce fraud, waste and abuse, particularly when it comes to identity theft and impersonation?”

Scott reiterated his concerns in a Wednesday tweet: “I asked @USDOL’S Acting Inspector General how they are preventing fraud & abuse of increased federal unemployment benefits so we can get people back to work.”

Under President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue package, the government is supplementing weekly jobless benefits by $300 a week. The figure is in addition to the average state unemployment payment of about $340.

Larry Kudlow, who served as top economic adviser under former President Donald Trump, said that Biden’s economic relief package discourages some people from trying to find work.

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