California temporarily shuts down unemployment insurance claims to add fraud-fighting tool

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The state is shutting down new unemployment insurance claims for the next two weeks while it works to combat cases of fraud.

The decision comes after the governor’s strike team released a report Saturday with recommendations to reduce fraud and tackle backlog issues impacting the Employment Development Department.

The report shows a backlog of an estimated 1.6 million claims and lays out a path for reforms.

“EDD is broken. It needs top-down reform. Many of us have been asking EDD for many months to implement basic reforms that it hasn’t done,” Assemblyman David Chiu told FOX40.

Chiu said he was encouraged to hear that EDD is already taking some of the advice outlined in the report, starting with implementing a new program called to fight fraud.

The verification tool requires users to upload identifying documents and a photo of themselves in hopes of stopping scammers.

EDD said it will also allow them to verify identities quicker leading to faster payments.

To cut down on the backlog, the most experienced staff members will now be moved from the phone lines to instead work through the oldest and most complicated claims.

“According to the report, they’re not going to be able to close the backlog until the end of January. And so, I am very concerned that this is going to be too little too late for so many Californians who have been desperately waiting,” Chiu said.

In order to put these new plans into action, EDD said it must shut down new unemployment claims for the next two weeks, a move Assemblyman Kevin Kiley called “unacceptable.”

“The whole point of an unemployment list is it’s supposed to be there for you when unfortunate circumstances hit and you’re unable to work,” Kiley explained.

People looking to submit a claim, will be redirected to a temporary webpage.

If you input your personal info, EDD said it will invite you to the new unemployment insurance system when it is ready.

“My hope it that we are really truly at a low-point for EDD and that this strike force report represents the turning point for this agency. We’ll see,” Chiu said.

EDD said new claimants should not see a delay in benefit payments because the new system avoids the old, time-consuming ID verification process.

The department also said the pause on new claims does not impact anyone with current unemployment claims.

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