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New Rules To Receive Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment Rate
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

As jobless numbers continue to drop, North Carolina Department of Commerce officials are announcing new rules for people receiving unemployment benefits. 

Beginning next February, claimants will be required to present a photo I.D. at an in-person meeting within four weeks of receiving their first benefits. Currently, the meetings are done at random.  

"Every week that you receive unemployment, you have to certify that you're able, available, and seeking unemployment in North Carolina," said Dale Folwell, Assistant Secretary for the Division of Employment Security. "That's when a photo I.D. will be required, so that we know that the work search, actually applies to the person presenting it."

Several other states already require a photo I.D. to receive benefits.

Folwell said he hopes the changes will help correct the state's overpayment woes.

"The U.S. Department of Labor just sent me a list and said it's estimated by them that 18.7% of our payments are considered to be overpayments, for one reason or the other," said Folwell.

While a dollar-for-dollar breakdown of those reasons was not immediately available, a department spokesman said it's likely to include both claimant fraud and administrative overpayments.

Folwell said it took a dip in the unemployment numbers for the new regulations to be feasible.

"You know, the division has been faced with a mountain of claimants over the years, and their ability to focus on how to bring integrity back to the system -- it's hard to do that when you're drowning. Now that we're not, we're catching our breath, we're realizing all the opportunities we have to fix the problems."

The changes are expected to go in to effect February 1st, 2014.

Eric Mennel prepares the afternoon/evening "drive time" newscast on WUNC. Previously, he was a producer for The Story with Dick Gordon. Eric has reported for All Things Considered, This American Life, 99% Invisible and other radio programs. He covered protests and security measures at the 2012 Republican National Convention for WUSF Tampa and NPR News. One day, he hopes to own a home with a wrap-around porch.
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