The Employment Development Department (EDD) has clearly not been up to the task of providing unemployment benefits to the millions of Californians thrown out of work when the COVID-19 pandemic struck
That’s why I joined several of my Republican colleagues on December 7th, the first day of the new session, to introduce a package of bills aimed at making EDD more efficient and more secure. My bill, AB 24, will ensure that claimants quickly receive decisions about their applications by requiring a response from EDD within 30 days, or within 15 days when follow-up information is requested. Other legislation will establish an advisory committee to provide oversight and accountability at EDD, along with anti-fraud measures requiring EDD to cross-check claim information with state and county correctional inmate data. Still another anti-fraud measure will require EDD to stop including full social security numbers in mailings to claimants, a practice that invites fraudulent claims. Because of bank glitches and concerns about fraud, another bill will allow claimants to receive their benefit payments by direct deposit instead of debit cards.
In fairness to EDD and its employees who must deal with this crisis, the massive increase in unemployment claims would have overwhelmed any state agency. Even so, over half a year since the crisis began, there is still a backlog of about 1.6 million cases, with many claimants waiting five or even six months to receive the unemployment insurance they have coming. And fraud, including false claims from convicted killers, rapists and other felons who have collected at least $400 million while in prison, is running rampant. In short, EDD’s response to this crisis has been a disaster.
Millions of workers and their families have suffered an economic catastrophe because of EDD’s failures. This has to change, now!