SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — New unemployment claims are on hold in California as the embattled Employment Development Department works to process claims faster, address scams and get a better handle on its 1.6 million claims backlog.
For the past six months, Leo Tolentino has followed the EDD’s steps, moving according to their direction.
“I applied and then my application got, like, denied right away and I wasn’t sure why,” the Modesto resident told FOX40.
In July, Tolentino found himself in brief rhythm with the EDD.
“And they kind of fixed the problems that we’re going on,” he explained.
Only, that was short lived.
“Again, it was the same problems from when I first started,” he said. “I haven’t been able to reach anybody.”
Tolentino said he’s been trying to get answers for some issues he’s had with his EDD paycheck. When he found out that new claims would be put on pause for two weeks, he understood the pain.
“That’s kinda also frustrating for those people that need something right away. They have to wait even longer, longer than what they’ve already had to wait,” he said.
The EDD announced the “reset” Saturday, stating the hold would allow the department to process claims faster, reduce fraud and tackle backlog issues.
“And this is a bipartisan concern,” said Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno.
Lawmakers say it’s a shared concern.
“They’re not going to be able to close the backlog until the end of January,” said Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco. “And so, I am very concerned that this is going to be too little, too late for so many Californians.”
The EDD faces varying degrees of criticism from lawmakers.
“This strike team didn’t address fraud in a significant way, at all. In fact, in many cases, I kinda think it’s pretty silent,” Assemblyman Patterson said.
Legislators say it’s now wait and watch.
For Tolentino, it’ll have to be a whole new tune as he works to find work and “new opportunities.”
The EDD reports that about a million people have received payments but have changed their claim and are waiting on adjustments, which is a category Tolentino falls under.