1.4 million EDD unemployment claims in California suspended


Ten months after the start of a COVID-19 pandemic that left many unemployed unemployed, the National Unemployment Agency suspended payments of 1.4 million benefit claims, angering jobless Californians as she tries to contain the rampant fraud.

The mass suspension is the latest controversy for an agency that has come under fire for blocked phone lines, computer glitches and operational issues that have left hundreds of thousands of frustrated Californians without financial assistance, most for months.

State lawmakers say their offices have been inundated with desperate appeals from voters who do not understand why their unemployment benefits have been cut by the state’s employment development department.

“I am angry and in disbelief that EDD continues to fail in its one and only job – to send benefits to those in need,” said MP Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles). “Suspending benefits during one of the highest unemployment rates and just before the due date of bills is cruel, especially during a pandemic.”

The state agency has processed an unprecedented 18.5 million claims and paid more than $ 110 billion in benefits since the pandemic began in March, shutting down many businesses and putting people out of work.

At the same time, authorities are investigating the possibility that more than $ 4 billion has been paid by the state agency for fraudulent claims, often filed by criminals using stolen identities.

“As we neared the end of the year and the start of the newly extended federal unemployment benefits, the EDD applied additional fraud detection screening to existing claims established during the pandemic,” said Loree Levy, door – agency speech. “About 3.5 million of them have been found to be potentially fraudulent.”

As a result, EDD officials have suspended 1.4 million claims in recent days until beneficiaries can verify their identity and eligibility for benefits, Levy said. An additional 1.9 million claims were dismissed after EDD determined they were not eligible.

Suspended claims could represent $ 28 billion in benefits if they follow the trend cited by payment authorities of an average of $ 20,000 per claim.

The EDD announced the suspensions on Sunday and said people whose applications had been suspended were notified by email or regular mail.

“They are made aware of the information they will need to verify their identity or eligibility for payments to resume,” Levy said. “If no official response is received, the claims will be canceled.”

Lawmakers say EDD has told them instructions to reactivate requests are sent to applicants about a week after the suspension. After that, officials say, it shouldn’t take more than three weeks to submit the documents verifying eligibility and for the EDD to lift a suspension.

State Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) said the threat of fraud was real, but noted that EDD was “over-corrected” and his office was inundated with calls from panicked voters.

“Foundry that wide net and the suspension of payments to law-abiding Californians are impacting the lives of tens of thousands of innocent residents who struggle to pay their rent and put food on the table, ”McGuire said Thursday.

The suspensions were ordered as the EDD prepared to start sending in additional $ 300 in new weekly unemployment benefits authorized by recent congressional action.

Irene Flores of Los Angeles, who was a Lyft driver before the pandemic, said she was told her application has been put on hold.

Flores said she first applied for unemployment benefits in March and twice had to file documents to verify her identity. Then, on New Years Eve, she received a notice from EDD that her application was on hold again.

“It’s upsetting,” said Flores, “because my account doesn’t have to be on hold for the third time when I’ve sent all the documents they’ve requested and they’ve requested it. have checked. “

The end of unemployment benefits meant she was unable to pay her January rent, Flores said.

Anita McLaughlin, who lost her job at an executive recruiting company in March, was also told her application had been put on hold.

She called EDD twice last week, waiting an hour and 25 minutes before the first call was disconnected without connecting to a representative. McLaughlin said she was on hold for 3.5 hours during the second call and spoke to three people, including a supervisor, who were unable to help resolve her claim.

Her attempts to upload documents to EDD’s website to verify her identity were unsuccessful, she said Thursday.

“It has been a very stressful time and EDD has not helped,” said McLaughlin, who had to move with his sister to El Dorado Hills near Sacramento due to financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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