The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) annual financial report revealed that in 2013 it improperly paid an estimated $7.7 billion in taxpayer funds to Unemployment Insurance (UI) beneficiaries, including $7.3 billion worth of overpayments.

President Obama and some lawmakers are pushing for an extension of unemployment insurance benefits, which expired for many Americans at the end of year. The Senate is expected to take this issue up as its first legislative action upon returning from Christmas break.

According to the fiscal 2013 annual financial report the DOL released in mid-December, the estimated $7.7 billion in improper payments made through waste, fraud, and errors last year constitute an approximately 20 percent decrease when compared to the $9.7 billion in 2012. However, the report pointed out that the “true” improper payment rate, which refers to mistaken payments as a percentage of program outlays, increased from 10.8 percent in 2012 to 11.5 percent in 2013.

This means that 10.8 percent of the $90.2 billion spent on unemployment benefits in 2012 was paid by mistake, compared to 11.5 percent of the $66.7 billion spent on UI last year. More than $1 out of every $10 spent on UI recipients in 2013 was paid in error.

“For FY 2013, the Department reported improper payments totaling approximately $7.68 billion for the UI program alone,” stated the DOL finance report.

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