April 14, 2021

People in California can apply for unemployment benefits again after a 2-week reset made filings impossible

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  • California residents can apply for unemployment benefits again after a two-week hiatus that was used to update technology for the state’s Employment Development Department.
  • The new technology hopes to cut down on routine issues within the department including fraudulent claims and long processing times for initial claims.
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Californians can apply for unemployment once again following a two-week “reset” period that made new applications impossible.

According to LAist, the reset period was so the state’s Employment Development Department could work through a backlog while making improvements to its technology systems that enable it to cut down on claims-processing times and fraud.

Those who filed claims before the reset began on September 20 were still able to have their claims processed, while those who tried during the hiatus were not be able to start the claims process until October 5, according to an email statement from the EDD. The average time from filing a claim to initial payment is 21 days. 

The end of the two-week hiatus ushered in ID.me, which the agency says will help “avoid the lengthy manual review that can delay payments and EDD can more aggressively stop scammers at the front door.”

The need for the new technology comes from an influx of possible fraudulent claims, especially those who were applying for pandemic unemployment benefits, the EDD said. Many of those claims were coming from the same address and using stolen identities, according to the department, and there have been 40 arrests for unemployment fraud since the beginning of August.

At the end of September, roughly 1.5 million Californians were waiting on an unemployment check, according to LAist.

Those who are waiting to apply for unemployment will not be eligible for the Lost Wages Assistance Program, which is an additional $300/week being sent out to Californians who became unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Three of the five weeks of the program have already been sent out.