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1.4 Million Californians Seek To Restart Their Frozen Unemployment Benefits

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A staffer works to process claims at California's unemployment office, March 30, 2020. (California Employment Development Department)
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California’s unemployment department suspended payments to 1.4 million people over the holidays, just as jobless Californians were hopeful about receiving new federal benefits from the latest COVID relief bill.

Now, those with suspended accounts are scrambling to comply with the department’s new fraud prevention guidelines in order to get their payments flowing again.

The department has been contacting recipients in batches, instructing them to complete a new online identity verification process through a website called ID.me.

While some have already succeeded at getting benefits flowing again, others describe an opaque process that offers no clear timeline for resuming payments during a time of great financial hardship.

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“I've contacted my representatives, and I was basically told, Well, there are food banks. Hang in there,” said Lindsay Green, an unemployed travel agent in Santa Monica. “It leaves me disappointed and not having any faith in this system.”

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