By Michael Barnes
A recent report from the Government Accounting Office (GAO) discussed the use of electronic data sources for income verification for social service benefit eligibility. The report is entitled, “Federal Low-Income Programs: Use of Data to Verify Eligibility Varies Among Selected Programs and Opportunities Exist to Promote Additional Use (GAO-21-183)." The GAO Report looked at federal, state and commercial data sources that are used to verify income across six programs. The programs evaluated were:
Housing Choice Vouchers,
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC),
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP); and
Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Advantages of Electronic Data to Verify Eligibility for Federal Low Income Programs
The GAO Report discussed The Work Number® database from Equifax as one of the commercial data sources used in the eligibility determination processes for these programs. Notably, the GAO explored the advantages and challenges in the use of data verification for both agencies and beneficiaries. Verification sources include both governmental and commercial data sources.
The results of the GAO Report reinforced the message discussed in a recent Equifax blog post. In particular, that post described how the growth in The Work Number database can help agencies improve service to reduce the burden on applicants. Specifically, the GAO Report highlights that data verification from sources such as The Work Number database can potentially help:
reduce improper payments;
improve administrative efficiencies for agencies and caseworkers;
reduce beneficiary time, effort and confusion;
reduce the number of applications denied due to insufficient documentation; and
enable agencies to deliver benefits more quickly, more accurately and with enhanced caseworker support.
Verifications through The Work Number Can Help
The Report specifically pointed out potential advantages of using The Work Number database in determining program eligibility. It noted that The Work Number database provides verifications “...from the last pay period and can be accessed in real time.” In addition, The Work Number “...may be considered a primary source” for determining eligibility for some programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) “...without requiring additional confirmation.”
The GAO Report notes that challenges can exist with resolution of potential data discrepancies across all of the data sources. Unlike other sources, however, The Work Number is the nation’s largest database of up-to-date income records. Further, The Work Number database is updated directly from employers every pay period. As a result, The Work Number database provides a greater level of reliability and timeliness than the other data sources. With over 115 million active employee records from more than 1 million contributing employers, The Work Number can provide insights not available through other sources.
Contact The Work Number now to learn more about how to use The Work Number to help quickly and efficiently get benefits to those in need.