THE INVESTIGATORS: LWC flagged by legislative auditor for potential improper unemployment payments

Updated: Apr. 5, 2021 at 9:29 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Legislative Auditor‘s Office has flagged the Louisiana Workforce Commission for what appears to be improper payments through the unemployment program.

According to the findings, auditors analyzed wages reported from January 2020 to September 2020 and found that the LWC potentially paid out more than $405 million in payments to 97,585 people who did not appear to have been eligible based on their income.

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According to the Legislative Auditor’s Office, the LWC indicated that two primary issues contributed to the potentially improper payments including the backlog of documentation from former or current employers of applicants and a delay allowed in the quarterly reporting of employee wages for the second quarter of 2020.

“Our commitment and tenacity will not cease,” said LWC Secretary Ava Dejoie in response to the findings. “We have seen an incredible amount of need during the COVID-19 Pandemic, and our number one priority from the beginning has been making sure that the people who are eligible for benefits receive them. We know that things like unreported PPP wages, vacation, and sick time have been consistent issues. That being said, the most important thing for us has been making sure that people have a roof over their heads and food on their tables.”

The findings come more than a year since the start of the pandemic and after a series of reports by the 9News Investigators detailing the problems many people have reported with the LWC.

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Earlier this year, many people came to WAFB with a number of complaints — everything from the agency placing you on extreme holds when you try to get through to not being able to speak to a live person to get your questions answered.

The Legislative Auditor’s Office has recommended that LWC continue to investigate people who received unemployment benefits and recover the money as appropriate.

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