California Unemployment Checks Delayed After Computer System Upgrades


California EDD

For those of you waiting for your unemployment check since Labor Day, an updates to the Unemployment Insurance System have a caused a delay that the State says they are working to fix. In a press release issued Friday, The Employment Development Department said about 185,000 of the nearly 800,000 Californians who receive unemployment benefits have been impacted by problems with the agency’s processing system. About 80,000 of them still haven’t gotten their checks.

Here is the full Press Release

New Upgrades for the Unemployment Insurance (UI) System

September 20, 2013, 5:00 p.m.

Updated: See the “Status on Backlogged Processing of Bi-weekly Certifications for Ongoing Benefits” section for an update on our efforts and progress.

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 Thursday, September 19, the EDD processed and paid approximately $24 million in total unemployment benefits to eligible claimants.  That matches the average we were paying on Thursdays prior to the implementation of the new payment processing system.  Thursdays are some of our slower days in certification activity.
  • On average before the new system, the EDD paid $33 million a day in total benefits.  On Wednesday, September 18, the EDD processed and paid approximately $55 million in total benefits to eligible claimants and a total of $47 million in benefits on Tuesday, September 17.
  • On Thursday, 62% of the bi-weekly certifications from claimants were processed in the new system on the same day they were received.

Status on Backlogged Processing of Bi-weekly Certifications for Ongoing Benefits

Since the implementation of our new internal processing system, the majority of our customers are getting their certifications for ongoing benefits processed within the week in which the EDD receives them.  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.  This is a time-consuming manual process that the EDD is working to automate wherever possible.  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 less than 800,000 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 Thursday, September 19, the EDD processed certifications for approximately 47,000 claimants.  Of those, 11,000 customers had a certification dating back to the Labor Day week that was cleared from the backlog.
  • The EDD started Thursday with a total backlog of about 60,500 claimants waiting beyond ten days for EDD to process their certifications for ongoing benefits.  Again, about 11,000 of those were processed by the end of the day through expanded processing efforts which are focused on clearing the oldest certifications first.
  • But certifications from 33,000 claimants dating back to September 9th are now beyond ten days so they have been added to the backlog.  So as of Friday, September 20, there are approximately 80,000 claimants with backlogged certifications for benefits.
  • These backlogged certifications are EDD’s number one priority.  Hundreds of staff will be working throughout the weekend, with programmers working around the clock, to clear as much of this backlog as possible.
  • We do anticipate the number of backlogged certifications to turn around and significantly decrease over the next several days as we complete more and more of the one-time adjustments needed in these cases.
  • 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.

The staff here at the EDD truly do understand just how important unemployment benefits are to our customers – a critical lifeline while they are out of work. We have had staff working until 4 or 5 in the morning and then returning a few hours later, dedicated to getting us over this hump in the transition period for this new system just as quickly as possible. We have dedicated every available resource to this effort, however we are limited by a staffing shortage created by reduced federal funding.

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 CardSMwebsite 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 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.