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Department of Labor Replaces Paper Checks with Debit Cards
New Program will save Taxpayers $643,762, Improve Security and Service
JEFFERSON CITY, MO – The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DOLIR) soon will offer Missourians eligible to receive unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, Second Injury Fund payments, and disaster unemployment benefits and displaced workers covered by the Trade Act the benefit of having funds deposited to a debit card. Claimants who utilize the electronic payment method will receive their money faster – within two business days of being processed – and no longer will need to wait for the mail to deliver their checks.
The debit card program will save Missouri taxpayers $643,762 a year. The new debit cards also are expected to reduce fraud by eliminating stolen, lost and misdirected checks and can be used at thousands of ATMs and point-of-purchase locations across the state such as grocery stores or gas stations.
“In addition to the cost savings to Missouri’s taxpayers, the debit card system will allow for a more convenient, faster, and safer way for Missouri’s claimants to receive their payments,” said Todd Smith, DOLIR Director. “Claimants eligible to receive any one of these benefits, likely are undergoing some type of financial hardship,” Smith added. “It just made sense for us to explore other options to ensure that claimants receive their payments as quickly as possible. At the same time, we’re responding to Gov. Blunt’s call for greater efficiency in state government. The elimination of postage fees and other mailing expenses will result in a cost savings to the Department.”
The debit card program will be administered by the Department’s Division of Employment Security in conjunction with Central Bank, the financial institution awarded the contract for providing the debit card service, aptly called “Missouri Access.” The contract agreement is for an initial two years, with five one-year renewal options. Central Bank was chosen as the contractor through the state bidding process.
“We are extremely pleased to partner with the Missouri Department of Labor to provide their clients with these state-of-the-art debit card-based transaction services,” said Ken Littlefield, President of Central Bank. “This is a major, positive step in the Labor Department’s commitment to move to totally automated processing and improve efficiency. We look forward to assisting them in its administration,” added Littlefield.
Within 90 days, the Department of Labor will kick off a pilot program to ensure the debit card process is working smoothly and effectively. A small sampling of claimants will receive their payments under the new system during the test phase.
The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ mission is to promote and protect industry and labor. The processing of Missouri UI claims is a free service provided by the Department’s Division of Employment Security. Under Missouri law, workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own and are actively seeking work may be eligible to receive up to 26 weeks of UI benefits. To file a Missouri UI claim, please visit the Internet site, www.moclaim.com.
The Second Injury Fund compensates injured employees when a current work-related injury combines with a prior disability to create an increased combined disability. For more information regarding the Department of Labor’s Division of Workers’ Compensation, visit the Internet site, http://www.dolir.mo.gov/wc/index.asp.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance is intended for those who are not eligible for benefits under a state’s regular unemployment insurance program. Farmers, the self-employed and others who are denied regular unemployment insurance may be eligible for this assistance. Missourians who need information about how to file a claim should call (800) 788-4002.
Missouri claimants will automatically be enrolled in the debit card program. Persons who instead opt to have their payments sent directly to a bank account will have seven days to file a direct deposit application.
For more information about the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, please visit the Internet site, www.dolir.mo.gov.