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EDD working to address backlog of claims

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) — Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration and leaders of the Employment Development Department gave an update on its massive backlog of unemployment benefit claims. 

Leaders of the state agency tasked with processing millions of unemployment claims during the pandemic gave lawmakers an update on its issues Wednesday.

A group working to improve the Employment Development Department told members of the Senate Labor Comittee it’s on track to clear its backlog of about one million claims by Jan. 27, 2021. 

“We identified 1.6 million people were still waiting for their payment, this is what is referred to as a backlog,” Carol Williams said. “This is what we refer to as humans waiting for their money. Over 424,000 of them are no longer waiting.”

The department credits its new identity verification system, called “ID Me” for picking up the pace on benefit applications. 

It started using the new system less than two weeks ago. 

But that improvement is just the beginning of a long list of department needs. 

Members of Gov. Newsom’s EDD strike team brought up concerns of the department’s manpower.

“At its core, the department has grown overly reliant on a single group of people who must perform highly specialized tasks to perform and process claims, in the long run, the department must take steps to simplify that work,” Yolanda Richardson, Secretary of CA Government Operations Agency said.

Lawmakers pressed edd leaders on the number of EDD workers needed in and out of a recession. 

Officials told the committee it can take years to train EDD employees.

“The fact that it takes years to train people appropriately, it says to me as a policy maker there’s something wrong here if the system is so difficult not only for those seeking assistance, but for those providing it,” State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, said.

EDD leaders say they will roll out a specific timeline on more targeted improvements within the coming weeks.

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