We wanted to pass along this information from the Sacramento Bee who is reporting that because a state computer system is still having problems, Governor Jerry Brown has ordered the Employment Development Department to begin paying backlogged claims for continued benefits immediately—even before determining whether they are eligible for payment.
According to Marty Morgenstern, secretary of the state Labor and Workforce Development Agency, said Wednesday the extraordinary measure could eliminate a backlog of about 80,000 claims by Tuesday.
Determinations of eligibility for backlogged claims will be determined at a later date and EDD will act to recover any resulting over payments that might occur.
EDD, which is upgrading its 30-year-old unemployment insurance processing system, said early last week that about 50,000 Californians had claims delayed after the department converted several years of old data into a new processing system over the Labor Day weekend. The problem quickly grew wider, however. By Friday, EDD said about 185,000 of the state’s nearly 800,000 people receiving benefits had been affected, with about 80,000 backlogged claims yet to be cleared.
Latest Press release that went out Sept. 25
New Upgrades for the Unemployment Insurance (UI) System
September 25, 2013, 3:30 p.m.
Updated: Additional efforts underway this week and an update on our progress; see the “Status on Backlogged Processing of Bi-weekly Certifications for Ongoing Benefits” section for more information.
Over the last few months, the Employment Development Department (EDD) has been wrapping up work on new upgrades to our 30-year-old payment processing system. California has by far the largest UI program in the nation and we are busy transitioning to the new system in order to bring greater conveniences to our customers and greater efficiencies to our operations.
We launched the internal portion of this processing system over the long Labor Day weekend. It provides more of an automated review of eligibility on every bi-weekly certification we receive – reducing the need for staff intervention and streamlining the process. The public portion of this new system called UI Online will launch in the next couple of months, allowing our customers the ability to get more information about their claims and manage aspects of it, like changing a mailing address, all without having to talk with a representative.
Some Processing Delays in Transition
While we are processing through this new system the majority of our customers’ bi-weekly certifications for benefits within the week that we receive them, there are some payment delays for a subset of our customers with more complexity associated with their claims. We are working around the clock and through the weekends to try and get these payments issued for the customers eligible and waiting for benefits.
We have new updated daily figures on unemployment benefits being paid in California, along with EDD efforts to reduce our processing backlog that has created some delayed payments.
Total Unemployment Benefits Paid
- On Tuesday, September 24, the EDD authorized a total of more than $34 million in unemployment benefits for eligible claimants. That’s compared to a typical day before the implementation of our new processing system when we would pay approximately $33 million in total unemployment benefits.
- These payments were issued to the EDD Debit Cards for the associated claimants this morning (Wednesday, September 24).
Status on Backlogged Processing of Bi-weekly Certifications for Ongoing Benefits
Since the implementation of our new internal processing system, the EDD is processing about 83-85% of all certifications from all claimants within the week in which it was received.
As is always the case with the unemployment insurance program, most are validated for payment, some are disqualified from payment because of an eligibility issue, and others require further information from the claimant.
But we do continue to have a backlog of certifications that require some one-time adjustment in the way claimant’s old claim data is aligning with the new system in order to clear their new certification for processing. The backlog contains bi-weekly certifications that we receive from our claimants that are beyond ten days and still awaiting processing. Each day the clock moves forward and while we clear some of the backlog, other customers move from within ten days to now beyond ten days for processing, so the totals will change daily.
Currently, there are approximately 770,000 people certifying for ongoing unemployment benefits in California (the total number is now declining due to the recent end to any new Tier 4 federal extension benefits).
- On Tuesday, September 24, the EDD processed certifications for approximately 64,000 claimants.
- Of those, approximately 42,000, or 82%, involved certifications we received that same day.
- Another 12,000 customers out of the overall total were cleared from our backlog – which includes certifications extended beyond ten days for processing.
- All others had more recent certifications.
- As a result of the Tuesday processing, the majority of all the claimants were verified as eligible to receive ongoing unemployment benefits.
- As is always the case with the unemployment insurance program, those not validated eligible for payment will receive notice of temporary disqualification from payment or a request for further information or clarification.
- While 12,000 claimants were cleared from the backlog yesterday, others who certified back on September 13 have now entered into the backlog of processing extended beyond ten days. So we start Wednesday, September 25 with a backlog certification for a little less than 73,000 claimants.
- However, the number of claimants moving into the backlog is declining and when combined with extra processing efforts on the backlog, the EDD is making progress in catching up with any claimants waiting beyond ten days for payment.
Additional EDD Efforts to Clear the Backlog
- The EDD is now implementing one of our latest alternatives developed for liquidating our current backlog. This will allow us to move quickly to issue payment and then work to complete the more time-consuming eligibility review required at a later date.
- This new approach will apply to approximately 124,000 people who have certified for ongoing benefits over the last three weeks, from the Labor Day weekend through September 21. About 53,000 of these claimants are in a backlog situation where processing their certification has taken more than ten days. The rest are much more recent and we are not behind on their processing, but we don’t want to be. So we are including these more recent claimants in this expedited effort.
- Some of these certifications are more clear-cut and will get through this process more quickly resulting in payment over the next day or two. The remaining cases have more complexity associated with them and could take a little longer due to the need for additional manual processing.
- Our goal will be to liquidate this backlog for all but a very few of the most complex cases through extra work continuing to be dedicated daily as well as through the weekend.
- Also, the EDD expedited the notice process allowing us to send letters today to affected claimants with a backlogged certification. We want to confirm for them that we have received their certification for ongoing benefits and are working to get it processed as quickly as possible. We hope that will help reduce incoming calls and e-mails from customers concerned we haven’t received their certifications, allowing our limited staff the chance to focus on clearing our backlog.
- This latest alternative approach is being implemented because we simply couldn’t wait any longer to pay some of these claims. We understand that it may take more time to investigate some of the claim certifications after payment have been made, but unemployed Californians are truly struggling to pay their rent and mortgages and put food on their tables. As EDD makes payments, claimants will be notified of the potential for overpayment should they be deemed ineligible at a later date.
- The EDD sincerely apologizes for the hardship experienced for those with backlogged certifications for benefits. We are committed to doing everything possible to resolve the backlog issue and get customers cleared of any further undue interruptions.
What Should UI Customers Do?
Again, we ask for the patience of our customers as we work through the necessary transition to a new, more efficient payment processing system. It is not necessary to call EDD on this issue. We are working to process all certifications received. If a customer does have a claim related question, we strongly encourage them to avoid the frustration of trying to get through to a representative by phone and instead contact the department through Ask EDD.
For those awaiting payment, we recommend you sign up for alerts from Bank of America EDD Debit CardSM website once a payment is posted to your debit card. You can also call the UI self-service automated line for daily updates on payments issued: 1-866-333-4606.
We are unfortunately understaffed due to federal funding reductions at a time when demand remains more than twice what it was before the recent recession. We simply cannot continue to support all channels of service, and customers do have alternatives to the phone. Our staff focus instead is on processing claims and payments and getting through this transition to our new system. The more we can get our customers using the self-service tools we have made available, the more our limited staff can be available to take care of claims with more complex needs.
The EDD website also features information on some additional resources available in California communities that may help you, including basic necessities and food assistance.
The EDD also strongly encourages our customers to monitor this Web page over the next few months as we progress in new upgrades to the UI payment processing system. We will continually post updates to this page and to our EDD Facebook and EDD Twitter pages in an effort to keep our customers informed and prepared. Also, with UI Online coming soon, you can stay up to date with new developments and features by subscribing to receive e-mail notices.