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Assemblyman Jim Patterson. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

EDD Changes Unemployment Payment Policy Following Lawsuit

‘They can’t do their fundamental task of paying legitimate claims while rooting out fraud’

By Evan Symon, July 23, 2021 11:07 am

The Employment Development Department (EDD) announced on Thursday that unemployment payments would now be going through for claimants while they are under investigation or otherwise have been pending for more than two weeks under a new “pay now” policy.

Specifically, the new unemployment payment policy will affect all current pending or on-hold payments where there had been at least one previous payment but then was placed into a pending status. Under the new policy, up to 100,000 Californians waiting on payments will now be tentatively cleared to start being paid as soon as today and over the next few weeks.

The EDD added that unemployment benefit claimants who are found to not be eligible will likely be required to pay back the amount in full, but that there will be exceptions in place for reasons such as financial hardship.

“We know many claimants who cleared fraud filters and verified identity have been waiting too long for payment,” said EDD Director Rita Saenz on Thursday. “In response, we are launching a new program that will help many Californians get benefits faster.”

The EDD has had a significant backlog of unemployment claims since the pandemic started in March 2020. While the Department did eventually institute changes and updates, as well as hire new staff, the number of backlogged claims was over 1 million until November 2020, with number going down significantly in subsequent months. However, the total number of backlogged claims has remained in the six-figure range, with the EDD missing their original June target to get through all remaining claims.

Calls to the EDD, many over unemployment claims being halted, have also remained high. During the later half of June, the EDD received nearly 5.9 million calls from over 420,000 unique callers, highlighting that while the EDD has made significant changes since last year, unemployment payment issues have persisted.

EDD unemployment policy changed due to recent lawsuit

The change by the EDD was spurred by a recent lawsuit with the Center for Workers’ Rights that included the new claimant payment policy as part of its settlement.

“So what EDD is doing is that instead of waiting to pay benefits while they look into a continued eligibility issue, they will actually be paying the claimants while they investigate these issues,” said Center for Workers’ Rights executive director Daniela Urban on Thursday.

“Once EDD has identified that there’s an eligibility issue, before this week, what EDD did is issue a full stop payment on claiming accounts. So they couldn’t receive benefits for any weeks going forward, regardless of whether they had eligibility issues for the future weeks. And that process is what’s stopping. So, that there’s no longer that stop payment when there’s an eligibility issue. If EDD cannot make a determination by the end of the week, following the week that they find the eligibility issue, EDD will make those payments while they continue to investigate.”

“This is a monumental change by EDD that will allow more claimants to be paid on time.”However, the change has proved to be controversial. Many worry that some of these claimants currently under investigation are fraudulent, and that it could add to the $31 billion in fraudulent claims paid out by the state last year.”The state’s action is a stunning admission that they can’t do their fundamental task of paying legitimate claims while rooting out fraud,” said Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno). “Now to clear their giant backlog, they’re going to take the dangerous risk of paying fraudsters too.”

Others pointed out that the new policy may also attract fraudsters looking for payments that would start after a two week delay.

“Honestly, this may only attract more to try and defraud the EDD,” explained former police detective Archie Hill to the Globe on Friday. “They always come out of the woodwork once a big change is announced, because now they know the new layout of the field and know to look for ways past that.”

The first backlogged payments are expected to go out today, with the rest to follow in the coming weeks.

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9 thoughts on “EDD Changes Unemployment Payment Policy Following Lawsuit

  1. Well, more likely than not this has something to do with a federal court declaring that the “Eviction Moratorium” during the continuing Wuhan Virus lock down is UNLAWFUL. People need their EDD funds to pay rent and buy food: “A federal court on Friday ruled that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) overstepped its authority by halting evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.” – Jack Phillips, Epoch Times.

  2. What a joke, EDD will make payments and if found to be ineligible or fraud the claimant will be required to “pay back” the amount in full with exceptions of financial hardship. Good luck getting any money back! This sounds so ass backwards! Good-bye more billions.

  3. How do i file a law suit ? Ca edd really hasn’t paid out many people on the pay now policy in the next few days i will loose everything i own & be homeless its not from lack of looking for a job cause i do daily just not hiring many older people it seems .ca wants everyone to loose everything they have worked so hard to get. I have been pending 18 wks now .and no help in site i contacted senator assemble members still no help WTH THIS IS VERY SAD ITS ALL JUST BS TO MAKE PEOPLE THINK THEY CARE .FYI THEY DONT

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