Bennet, Wyden, Crapo Introduce Bill to Improve Unemployment Insurance Programs

Bipartisan Legislation Would Fight Fraud, Improve Administration of State UI Systems, Strengthen Program Integrity

Washington, D.C. — Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet alongside U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), and nine of their Senate colleagues introduced the Unemployment Insurance Integrity and Accessibility Act to improve the nation’s unemployment insurance system. 

"Too many Americans struggle to access essential unemployment benefits as they navigate a patchwork of outdated state systems," said Bennet. "Our bipartisan bill strengthens unemployment systems across the country to help American workers stay afloat during difficult times.”

“The Covid-19 pandemic showed that unemployment insurance systems were too often unable to keep up with the needs of American workers and too vulnerable to fraud,” said Wyden and Crapo. “This bipartisan bill will go a long way to making the UI system more accessible to workers who need it and protecting taxpayer dollars by recouping and preventing fraud.”

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed that states’ Unemployment Insurance (UI) programs were both difficult for workers to access and vulnerable to fraud. The Unemployment Insurance Integrity and Accessibility Act would prevent future UI fraud and help ensure those who defrauded the system during the pandemic are brought to justice. It would also provide relief for claimants who were overpaid and cannot afford repayment or face other hardships, and take steps to make UI systems more accessible to eligible workers.

Specifically, the legislation addressing fraud and overpayment, strengthening program integrity, and investing in up-to-date technology, including by:

  • Extending the federal statute of limitations for pandemic unemployment insurance fraud to 10 years (from 5 years under current law);

  • Requiring states to crossmatch unemployment compensation claims against the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH) to prevent claimants from collecting UI if they are working;

  • Requiring states to utilize systems such as the State Information Data Exchange (SIDES) to allow electronic transmission of accurate claim information between employers and states;

  • Requiring states to use crossmatching systems such as the Integrity Data Hub (IDH) to identify potentially fraudulent unemployment claims;

  • Requiring states to crossmatch unemployment compensation claims against the Social Security Administration’s prisoner database to prevent fraud;

  • Implementing new access and technology requirements for online claim filing systems and in-person alternatives;

  • Requiring states to provide guidance to employers to facilitate their eligible workers’ access to benefits; and 

  • Providing for oversight of federal investments into the administration of UI programs. 

In October 2023, Bennet and Wyden introduced the Unemployment Insurance Modernization and Recession Readiness Act to update and expand unemployment insurance to better meet the needs of the modern workforce and more effectively respond during times of economic crisis.

In addition to Bennet, Wyden and Crapo, U.S. Senators James Lankford (R-Okla.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) also sponsored the bill.

The text of the bill is available HERE.