Labor Dept. looks to expand use of debit cards

TRENTON – Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Howard Wirths testified Wednesday that the department is saving money after implementing debit cards for unemployment insurance benefits and is working to save money by streamlining other operations.

The debit cards for unemployment insurance are estimated to save $7 million to $8 million a year, he told a Senate Budget Committee.

The department is considering using them for other areas, such as for claiming family leave benefits. That move could save $400,000 to $600,000 a year, according to Wirths.

Wirths also said the unemployment and disability tax collections have improved.

The department said it has set up a fraud prevention and risk unit, using technology software, putting more emphasis on prevention. The department last year identified $60 million in overpayments. It has also added a retired FBI agent to investigate, he said.

Wirths said the department will also make the overtime rules more consistent with federal rules, to make sure people aren’t receiving overtime pay who shouldn’t be receiving it in the first place.

Labor Dept. looks to expand use of debit cards