Home » Insights » Blogs

RPA Streamlines State Unemployment Processing

woman at desk on laptop

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment rates have skyrocketed. CNBC reported that in September, the long-term unemployment rate in the U.S. rose to 2.4 million, a record high for the COVID pandemic.

State unemployment agencies are struggling to keep up with the demand. Applications and other processes related to unemployment need to be handled quickly and at a high volume. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) automates repetitive, backoffice tasks, allowing unemployment processes to be completed more quickly and accurately.

Unemployment Processing Challenges

The challenges people have had trying to apply for unemployment benefits have added to the stress of losing jobs during the pandemic. The unemployed rely on their benefits to keep their heads above water. They need these benefits to pay rent, keep utilities on, and buy groceries.

Many of the unemployed have experienced long wait times to apply. Sometimes, online application systems completely shut down.

State unemployment agencies have trouble with backlogs and issuing timely payments. Some people who get laid off don’t get their benefits for months or receive a few installments only to have them stop for no apparent reason. Applicants may spend hours or even days trying to get a call through to a person to address their concerns.

States also experience fraud from people applying who aren’t qualified. According to Bloomberg Law, 11 states have reported an increase in fraudulent unemployment claims during the pandemic. Increased application volume and the pressure to process claims quickly makes catching fraud challenging.

RPA can solve these problems by replacing manual processes with intelligent automation.

3 Ways RPA Can Accelerate and Optimize Unemployment Processes

Wage Verification

The state needs to calculate maximum allowed benefits for unemployment applicants. To calculate these benefits, the state must look at what applicants earned when they were employed. To do this, the unemployment agency needs to look at tax statements. Gross income must be extracted from these documents. This income must then be quartered out to estimate what applicants are eligible for and what bracket they fall into.

RPA is ideally suited to extracting information and performing complex calculations. Digital workers unburden the claims processor from this work. RPA can make financial calculations quickly and accurately without the need for human intervention.

Identity Verification

To avoid fraudunemployment agencies must put every applicant through a process of identity verification. To verify identity, the state needs to go to third-party system.  

For example, for driver’s license verification, a clerk needs to go to the third-party system to verify. This system can vet applicants to determine that they are residents of the state. However, the clerk must manually type in information before running a search. 

With RPA, the digital worker extracts data automatically and then goes to the third-party system. If the clerk just feeds the license into the system, it will process to generate output instantaneously.

Independent Wage Verification

After wage verification has been processed, some claims must go through a second process of independent wage verification. When the unemployment office sends out a letter, the constituent can protest it. At this point, applicants may supply supporting documents that were missed during the first wage verification process. 

When a discrepancy occurs, a digital worker can examine the document and assign the case to the right person. RPA can also send a notification, improving communication with employees and constituents. If new calculations need to be made, a digital worker can make calculations for those quarters.

Finding More RPA Use Cases for State Agencies

These RPA unemployment application use cases are the tip of the iceberg for state agencies. The pandemic awakened the industry to the need for intelligent automation, but establishing an RPA program means discovering more opportunities for automation. 

E.g., COVID victims are recovering, but recovery can be slow. People who haven’t recovered entirely may be applying for SSI benefitsRPA can help streamline this process during a time of increased demand. RPA can also be used for routine HR onboarding processes.

RPA has many pre-built automations, while also making it easier for companies to develop and deploy their own intelligent automations.