EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING ADMINISTRATION
ADVISORY SYSTEM
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Washington, D. C. 20210
CLASSIFICATION

UI

CORRESPONDENCE SYMBOL

OWS/DUIO

ISSUE DATE

April 18, 2005

RESCISSIONS

 

EXPIRATION DATE

April 30, 2006

ADVISORY : UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROGRAM LETTER NO. 21-05
 
TO : STATE WORKFORCE AGENCIES
 
FROM : CHERYL ATKINSON s/s
Administrator
Office of Workforce Security
 
SUBJECT : Use of Identifying Information on Unemployment Insurance (UI) Documents

  1. Purpose. To remind State Workforce Agencies (SWAs) that information sufficient to identify unemployment insurance claimants must be provided to employers in order to permit them to participate in claims processes related to their former employees.


  2. References. Sections 303(a), 303(f), and 1137 of the Social Security Act.


  3. Background. Recently, due to concern about identity theft, some SWAs have either eliminated Social Security Numbers (SSNs) or used truncated SSNs on certain UI claims-related documents sent to claimants, employers, and employer representatives. We applaud state efforts to safeguard the personal information of UI claimants and support eliminating any unnecessary use of SSNs.

    However, in a few instances, removal of SSNs from certain claims documents or use of truncated SSNs has made it impossible for former employers, from whom the state requested information or notified of claims-related matters, to identify the individual to whom the documents pertained.


  4. Employer Participation in the UI Program. States are required by Section 303(a)(1)of the Social Security Act to administer their UI laws using procedures that ensure benefits are paid promptly to eligible claimants and not paid to those who are not eligible. Employer participation is essential to accurately determine a claimants' UI eligibility. Information from employers is needed for a variety of purposes, such as determining the reason for an individual's separation from employment. In addition, employers must have an opportunity to participate in predetermination hearings, to appeal decisions with which they disagree, and to participate in appeals hearings related to claims by their former employees.

    States are required by Sections 303(f) and 1137 of the Social Security Act to maintain Income and Eligibility Verification Systems (IEVS) that require employers to submit wage reports, require claimants to furnish their SSNs for UI claims purposes, and use SSNs in administering the UI program in a way that associates information about an individual with his or her SSN. Procedures and practices that may make it more difficult for employers to promptly and accurately provide information could lead to increases in erroneous payments and consequently undermine the purposes of the IEVs provisions cited above. Some large employers have reported that they are not able to identify individuals by name alone and prefer the use of SSNs.


  5. Use of Identifying Information on UI Documents. UI documents that seek information from employers or notify them of matters related to claims by their former employees must include information sufficient to permit the employer to identify the individual and participate fully in UI claims processes. These claims-related documents include requests for separation information, notification of claims and potential charges, and appeals related documents.

    If a SWA chooses to eliminate or truncate SSNs on UI documents, this change must be accompanied by a replacement form of identification, in addition to the individual's name, that will permit an employer to identify the individual. The SWA must ensure that the change will not impede the rights of claimants or employers to participate in any UI claims adjudication and "fair hearing" processes.

    Identity theft is a serious and growing problem in our society, and states are encouraged to make every effort to safeguard the confidential data they hold in administering the UI program. We encourage states to eliminate SSNs from any documents where they are not necessary. However, states must be careful in taking steps to curb the use of personal identifiers that they do not inadvertently fall out of substantial compliance with the IEVS requirements cited above or preclude interested parties from providing information or exercising their rights in the UI claims process.


  6. Action. State Administrators must ensure that state practices with respect to use of SSNs and other personal identifiers on UI claims documents are consistent with this advisory.


  7. Inquiries. Direct questions to your Regional Office.