If someone has lost a job and is need of unemployment insurance, they may be unable to afford necessities like food or housing. Helping streamline the process of applying for unemployment benefits can make sure people have the support they need in times of crisis, and improving government technology is an important part of the picture.
The Department of Labor is providing new digital and non-digital pathways for people to prove their identity and obtain government services through partnerships with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and the General Services Administration (GSA). Both collaborations were on display at Federal Tech Day 2023! These new identity verification options will ensure everyone receives the benefits they’re entitled to regardless of their location or ability to access technology.
Identity verification options
Imagine submitting the documents you need to file an unemployment insurance claim in just minutes and within a few miles of your home.
That’s a reality for residents in Arkansas right now. They are part of a pilot program called “in-person proofing” launched through the Labor Department’s partnership with USPS, for which we helped develop a web-based application. This in-person option allows claimants to verify their identity by visiting a local post office. It takes about 90 seconds to review and upload their identity documents. Once verified, proof of identity goes back to the state, where the benefits claims can be finalized with the assurance that the claim comes from a genuine resident in need.
There is also a digital way to verify your identity on a computer or on-the-go with your smartphone: through our partnership with GSA, people can verify their identity online via login.gov. This centralized website provides secure access to multiple government services, and all they need to remember is one email address and password.
Providing multiple options for identity verification improves the timeliness of benefits payments while reducing the risk of fraud. It also increases equity for claimants who don’t have reliable high-speed internet and enhances convenience for those who otherwise would have to travel long distances. A U.S. Post Office can be found within 10 miles of 99% of the U.S. population. The department will continuously evaluate the equity impacts of identity verification solutions like USPS on unemployment insurance programs.
Digital ID verification is available now through Login.gov. The new in-person option is available at select Arkansas U.S. Post Offices. At least half of U.S. states have expressed interest in adopting these technologies, and the Labor Department is looking to expand to all 53 state workforce agencies (50 states plus Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands).
These new identity-proofing options demonstrate a successful federal and state collaboration and will help ensure the integrity of the unemployment insurance system while expanding benefits when they’re most needed.
Akanksha Sharma is OCIO’s director of digital transformation at the U.S. Department of Labor. Follow OCIO on Twitter and LinkedIn. Are you interested in joining the OCIO Team? View available positions and apply today!