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Idaho unemployment benefits going paperless

Weekly unemployment insurance benefits for tens of thousands of jobless Idaho workers are going electronic. Beginning May 26, the elimination of paper checks will be phased in over the next five weeks.

Benefit claimants will automatically be switched to debit cards unless they already have their weekly benefit payments directly deposited into their bank accounts or chose to begin direct deposit immediately. The Idaho Department of Labor said in a release that it will begin the switch to debit cards on May 26 for claimants served through the Boise local office. Claimants served through the Canyon County and Meridian offices will be switched to debit cards on June 16, and the rest of the state will follow on June 30.

The department is providing both regular and federally financed extended benefits to over 44,000 unemployed workers a week. About 36 percent of them already have their benefits directly deposited into their bank accounts.

Claimants can sign up for direct deposit online by clicking “Sign Up for Direct Deposit” at www.labor.idaho.gov.

The average weekly benefit, including the supplemental $25 provided by the federal government, is around $261. The maximum benefit is $359 and the minimum is $97.

The elimination of paper checks is estimated to save the department about $130,000 a year in postage and check processing costs.

“The debit card and direct deposit options will benefit claimants by giving them direct access to their weekly benefit payments without check cashing fees,” Idaho Department of Labor Director Roger Madsen said. “Moving to electronic payments should also help eliminate instances of checks getting lost in the mail – or worse yet – stolen from mail boxes.”

More information about the debit card and direct deposit option is on the Department of Labor Web site.

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