Employment and Training Administration
Washington, D. C. 20210






December 2, 1996















Unemployment Insurance Service




The Department of Labor's Position on Issues and Concerns Associated With the Utilization of Telephone and Other Electronic Methods of Claimstaking in the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Program

  1. Purpose. To advise State Employment Security Agencies (SESAs) of the Department's interpretation of Federal statutes and regulations relating to telephone and other electronic methods of claimstaking.

  2. References. Section 1137, Social Security Act (SSA); Federal-State Extended Unemployment Compensation Act; ETA Handbooks Nos. 384, 392 and 399; 20 CFR 614; 20 CFR 616; and Unemployment Insurance Program Letter (UIPL) No. 35-95.

  3. Background. The Department's interpretation of several Federal requirements in a remote claimstaking environment was issued in UIPL No. 35-95, dated June 28, 1995. However, additional questions have been raised about the impact of remote initial claimstaking procedures on claims filed under the Interstate Arrangement for Combining Employment and Wages (Combined Wage Claims), the Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers (UCX) program and the Extended Benefits program.

    Questions also have been raised regarding how States can comply with the requirement that non-citizen claimants present documentation of a satisfactory immigration status in a remote claimstaking environment. This directive includes information on each of these areas.

  4. Presentation of Alien Documentation. Section 1137(d)(2), SSA, provides the following:

    If such an individual is not a citizen or national of the United States, there must be presented either--

    (A) alien registration documentation or other proof of immigration registration from the Immigration and Naturalization Service that contains the individual's alien admission number or alien file number ..., or

    (B) such other documents as the State determines constitutes reasonable evidence indicating a satisfactory immigration status.

    UIPL No. 35-95, Section 3.A.(5) stated that "neither sections 1137(d)(2)(A) or (B), SSA, may be satisfied by information obtained by telephone (orally or IVR/VRS) or entry via a computer keyboard or touchscreen."

    Upon reconsideration, the Department concludes that the requirement to present documentation from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), under Section 1137(d)(2)(A), SSA, can be satisfied by having the claimant "present" the documentation over the telephone by either using the keypad to enter data, or by reading the admission or file number from the document. This conclusion was made because it is unnecessary for a claims taker/examiner to personally inspect the INS documentation in order to obtain from the document the alien admission or file number for verification through the INS.

    This change only affects how the claimant is allowed to present INS alien documentation in accordance with Section 1137(d)(2)(A), SSA. It does not otherwise affect the requirement that the SESA must require that each claimant, who has indicated noncitizenship status, establish a satisfactory immigration status in accordance with Section 1137(d)(2), SSA. This change does not affect the Department's interpretation of Section 1137(d)(2)(A), SSA, as permitting a State to allow a claimant to submit a photostatic copy of the INS document(s) (containing the alien admission or file number) by mail or facsimile (FAX) transmission in lieu of viewing the original INS document(s). A photocopy or FAX of documentation not containing the alien admission or file number will not satisfy the requirements of Section 1137(d)(2)(B), SSA, because such documents cannot be verified through the INS. Such documents must be presented in person. Thus, there are three ways for a non-citizen claimant to "present" alien documentation: (1) by personally bringing to the claims office the original of the INS document containing the alien or admission number or other documents that the State determines constitutes reasonable evidence of a satisfactory immigration status; (2) by mailing a photocopy of, or FAXING, the INS document containing the admission or file number to the claims office; or (3) by telephoning the claims office and using the keypad to enter (or reading) the admission or file number from the INS document.

  5. Combined Wage Claim (CWC) Paying State/ UCX Wage Assignment. Under 20 CFR 616.6(e), the paying State for a CWC is required to be the State "in which" the claim is filed, unless the claimant is ineligible on the basis of combining, in which case the paying State is the State in which the claimant was last employed in covered employment and qualifies for benefits. This provision was promulgated in 1974, 39 Federal Register 45214 (December 31, 1974), in order to change the definition of the paying State to require that most CWC claims be filed under the intrastate program. Among other reasons, this change was intended to result in greater promptness in the payment of benefits, and cost savings (because it costs more to file through the Interstate Benefit Payment Plan (IBPP) rather than intrastate), while not adversely affecting the amount of benefits for which combined wage claimants qualify.

    Under 20 CFR 614.8(b)(1), UCX wages are required to be assigned to the State "in which" a first claim is filed. This UCX requirement is derived from 5 U.S.C. Section 8522, and, as noted in the legislative history to Public Law No. 85-848 (H.R. Rep. No. 1887, 85th Congress, 2nd Session 7; S. Rep. No. 2375, 85th Congress, 2nd Session 15), is designed to keep interstate claims to a minimum. This assures that such claims are filed as intrastate claims under the law of the State in which the claimant is filing. This prevents claimants, in an attempt to qualify for greater benefit amounts or avoid potential disqualifications, from filing their claims under the IBPP and having wages assigned or transferred to any State of their choice.

    In developing remote claimstaking procedures, States have requested an interpretation of the phrase "in which", for purposes of establishing the "paying State" for CWC claims and in determining the State of UCX wage assignment, when intrastate initial claims are allowed to be filed remotely by commuters from locations outside the State. (An intrastate claim is a claim filed in a State under the law of that State.) The issue, with regard to remote intrastate claims, is whether a remote CWC or UCX claim filed by a commuter is filed in the State "in which" the claimant is physically present or the State "in which" the claims office is located.

    Historically, intrastate CWC and UCX claims have been only those claims filed by individuals filing in-person in a facility in the liable/paying State. Generally, these claims are filed by individuals who reside, and have worked, in the State, and by individuals who, while residing in another State, have established a pattern of regularly commuting to work in the State. This latter category of individuals is precluded from filing against the liable State under the IBPP, except in cases where the State of residence finds that requiring such claimants to file intrastate claims in the State to which they normally commute to work would cause an undue hardship. (The use of remote claimstaking removes the hardship and allows all commuters to file directly with the State to which they normally commute.) Additionally, there are cases where some intrastate CWC and UCX claims are filed by individuals who neither reside, nor have worked, in the liable/paying State, but file their claims in-person in a facility in that State.

    It is the Department's position that the procedural change from in-person to remote claimstaking should have no effect on the historical treatment of intrastate claims in the determination of benefit eligibility or for reporting purposes. Thus, where intrastate claimstaking procedures require or permit a commuter to remotely file a CWC claim, and/or a "first claim" for UCX wage assignment purposes, with a State to which (s)he commuted, that State is the State "in which" the claim is filed. Further, an intrastate CWC, or intrastate "first claim," that causes UCX wages to be assigned to the liable/paying State, may only be filed remotely from another State by individuals who have established a pattern of commuting to work in the liable/paying State.

    Additionally, to ensure that remote claimstaking procedures do not adversely affect other non-resident claimants who may wish to file a claim while in another State, UCX wages are to be assigned in accordance with 20 CFR 614.8(b)(1) for UCX, and the paying State determined in accordance with 20 CFR 616.6(e) for CWC, for any claimant who is physically present in the filing State at the time the claim is filed, without regard to the claimant's State of residence or mailing address. States are not authorized to impose a residency requirement in the application of the above-referenced regulations.

  6. Application of Extended Benefits (EB) Two-Week Denial Provision. Except for the first two weeks for which benefits are otherwise payable, 20 CFR 615.9(c) prohibits the payment of benefits pursuant to a claim filed under the IBPP from a State that is not in an EB period. Since this provision applies to interstate claims filed by individuals who reside outside the liable State, a question has been raised about whether or not the prohibition also applies to intrastate claims filed under remote claimstaking procedures by individuals residing outside the liable State.

    This prohibition is specific to interstate claims filed under the IBPP. It does not apply to any intrastate claims whether the claimant is a resident or non-resident of the State. Thus, a claimant who remotely files an intrastate claim in a State that is in an EB period, regardless of whether he or she resides in that State, is not limited to two weeks of EB under 20 CFR 615.9(c).

  7. Action Required. SESA administrators should inform appropriate staff of the Department's position as set forth in this program letter and ensure that the handling of claims filed under remote claimstaking procedures is consistent with this position.

  8. Inquiries. Questions should be directed to the appropriate Regional Office.