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CA Not Accepting New Unemployment Claims For 2 Weeks During System Overhaul

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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California’s unemployment system will stop accepting new claims for the next two weeks, following the publication of a report finding the state’s Employment Development Department (EDD) in need of immediate reforms.

The two-week “reset” comes after the EDD has drawn criticism for delaying payments to more than 1 million unemployed Californians, with many applicants saying they’re unable to reach the department for help fixing a claim.

The new report — published Saturday by a task force assembled by Gov. Gavin Newsom in July — found a number of issues inside EDD, including an emphasis on preventing fraud at all cost, even if that means delaying payments to many applicants.

“There has developed at EDD a culture of allowing fear [of] fraud to trump all other considerations,” the report finds.

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Other findings in the report include:

  • The department’s backlog of unresolved claims has grown to nearly 1.6 million.
  • EDD staffers can only manually process about 2,400 claims per day. But lately, the department has been flagging about 20,000 claims for manual review every day.
  • Callers to the department’s core call center have no more than a one in 1,000 chance of reaching a human operator.
  • Applicants who don’t speak English “have a difficult, if not impossible, time navigating the unemployment application process."

During the department’s two-week reset, the EDD plans to roll out a new identity verification tool. Staffers will also begin work to clear the backlog. But resolving all those pent-up claims could take until the end of January.

The EDD plans to implement other changes, such as allowing users to upload documents from their smartphones, which could help decrease the department’s continued reliance on snail mail.

While the department won’t accept new claims for the next two weeks, those who already have claims open will still be able to file for benefits and receive ongoing payments.

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