A recent economic study explores the actual incidence of fraud in unemployment benefits. The study found that overpayments of benefits, whether by mistake or fraud, occurred in about 11% of the overall benefits paid out. The authors investigated the incidence of fraud, and found that it mostly took the form of concealed earnings. People collected unemployment benefits when they were actually employed, perhaps under the table. Other forms are when claimants are not looking for a job or are not available to work. Sometimes these accusations are made without a full appreciation of the individual’s situation. For example, someone who is in school full-time may also be available to work full or part time, or may be willing to quit school if a good job comes along.
The authors also noted that many eligible unemployed people do not collect unemployment. They point out that the uncollected benefits far exceed the overpayments. Some unemployed individuals apparently still find it shameful to apply for benefits, though their employer has been paying into the benefit system all during their employment.