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Report puts some form to how US states are authenticating public benefits

Report puts some form to how US states are authenticating public benefits

Researchers in the United States have created an image showing how authentication and identity proofing is used in the U.S. to give access to public benefits.

It should surprise few to learn that it is a hodgepodge of methods. Indeed, there is not even a standard list of benefits administered by states and territories.

For instance, biometric identification is a popular topic in the industry, but 25 percent of applications across all benefit programs do not require people to create an account or even log in to apply.

The information comes from a report written by two researchers working for Georgetown University’s Beeck Center. The center studies various systems people make use of daily and proposes improvements.

The authors created a tool based on their examination of 158 benefit applications found on the sites of 53 states and territories. Behind those application forms are six public assistance programs.

They are the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, Medicaid, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, child care and unemployment insurance and child care.

In place of a conclusion or set of recommendations, the authors offer insights they have gathered by being exposed to the disparate practices, methods and programs.

Maybe more important, they have opened their database to the public. The authors have invited those administering benefits to use the database to understand what others are doing.

No doubt, many authentication and identity proofing vendors will use it as a target list and market research tool.

Among its insights, 80 percent of applications that require or allow people to create an account also use authentication steps that include email verification, security questions and one-time authentication codes.

And looking at all programs, just 31 applications use state or city single sign-on services like the federal government’s Login.gov.

Only a third of those applying for a public benefit will be required to participate in an active ID proofing method, according to the tool.

Proofing in applications for unemployment insurance is different, where the steps are common.

And that proofing for unemployment benefits is very likely to involve biometric verification. A little less than half of those applications use it.

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