Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment Grants (RESEA)
Facilitating Reemployment and Increasing Program Integrity
The Unemployment Insurance (UI) program is a required partner in the broader public workforce system and provides unemployment benefits to individuals who have lost their employment through no fault of their own and who otherwise meet initial and continuing UI eligibility requirements. Beginning in 2005, the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration funded the voluntary UI Reemployment and Eligibility Assessment (REA) program to address individual reemployment needs of UI claimants, as well as prevent and detect improper benefit payments. In 2015, the Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment (RESEA) program replaced the REA program providing greater access to reemployment services in addition to services previously provided under the REA program.
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, amendments to the Social Security Act permanently authorized the RESEA program and implemented several significant changes including formula-based funding and a series of requirements intended to increase the use and availability of evidence-based reemployment interventions and strategies. The permanent RESEA program has four purposes:
- Reduce UI duration through improved employment outcomes;
- Strengthen UI program integrity;
- Promote alignment with the vision of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA); and
- Establish RESEA as an entry point to other workforce system partners.
Historically, RESEA targeted two populations: UI claimants determined to be most likely to exhaust benefits and former U.S. military servicemembers receiving Unemployment Compensation for Ex-service Member (UCX) benefits. The recent permanent RESEA authorization continues to target services to UI claimants identified as likely to exhaust UI benefits. However, provisions within DOL’s annual appropriations have provided additional flexibility for states to target any recipients of regular UI or UCX. Once selected, a claimant’s participation in RESEA is mandatory and failure to complete services may affect the claimant’s UI benefits. During FY 2018 approximately 20 percent of all UI claimants received RESEA services.
State participation in RESEA is voluntary. To operate an RESEA program a state must submit an annual plan detailing its service-delivery strategies, projected number of participants served, and other essential information. During FY 2019, 47 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands operated RESEA programs.
The foundational element of the RESEA program is an in-person meeting between the claimant and an appropriately trained American Job Center (AJC) staff member. There is variation across states in the use of technology, group sessions, and the number of RESEAs provided. At a minimum, RESEA sessions must include:
Every RESEA session is required to include a one-on-one assessment of the claimants’ continuing UI eligibility.
This assessment typically includes confirming employment status and a review of the claimant’s work search activities.
At a minimum, RESEAs must provide participants with:
- Support in the development of an individual reemployment plan;
- Customized career and labor market information;
- Enrollment in the Wagner-Peyser Employment Service; and
- Information and access to other AJC services and resources that support the claimant’s return to work.
RESEA and WIOA Integration
By applying for RESEA funding, states agree to integrate the RESEA program with WIOA-funded and Wagner-Peyser-funded services. RESEAs were developed to supplement rather than supplant current reemployment activities provided by the workforce system, and, in this context, RESEA participants must be co-enrolled in Wagner-Peyser-funded Employment Services as part of the initial RESEA. Co-enrollment in WIOA Dislocated Worker or other available programs may also be appropriate.
Beyond serving as entry point to the workforce system for over one million UI claimants each year, the RESEA program can also directly support WIOA activities by contributing to American Job Center (AJC) infrastructure costs and providing reimbursement for various reemployment services conducted during or directly resulting from a claimant’s participation in RESEA.
The RESEA program is based on a successful model established in Nevada where eligibility assessments were delivered seamlessly with reemployment services. Research on that service delivery model found the impact to be the following:
- Claimants were significantly less likely to exhaust their benefits;
- Claimants had significantly shorter UI durations and lower total benefits paid (on average 1.82 fewer weeks and $536 lower total benefits paid);
- Claimants were more successful in returning to work sooner, earning higher wages in the measurement period, and retaining their jobs; and
- Every $1.00 of cost produced $2.60 of savings.
States are required to implement RESEA interventions and service delivery strategies that have strong evidence to support they work and to evaluate any strategies without such evidence. Beginning in FY 2019, states have the flexibility to use up to 10 percent of their annual RESEA funding to conduct evaluations of these interventions and strategies. Beginning in FY 2023 states will be required to use no less than 25 percent of their grant funds for interventions or service delivery strategies with strong causal evidence showing a demonstrated capacity to improve employment and earnings outcomes for program participants.
To support states in implementing the new RESEA evidence-based requirements, the Department has established a new to Topic Area on its Clearinghouse for Labor Evaluation and Research website (CLEAR). The new RESEA topic area is devoted to identifying evaluations in the reemployment evidence base that are relevant to the RESEA program. Moving forward, CLEAR will conduct periodic independent RESEA evidence reviews, add to the list of studies and interventions studied in the RESEA topic area tab, and assign causal evidence ratings to both impact studies of RESEA interventions and the RESEA interventions themselves. This site will be an essential resource for states as they develop or further refine evidence-based RESEA strategies and contemplate building new evidence. CLEAR’s RESEA topic area tab can be accessed directly at: https://clear.dol.gov/reemployment-services-and-eligibility-assessments-resea.