Is backlog of delayed unemployment checks cleared? Many say no
More than a week after the state’s top labor official ordered the California Employment Development Department to pay out all backlogged unemployment claims, many Californians have yet to see their checks.
The California EDD had been working overtime to clear a backlog of unemployment claims that were snared when the agency’s 30-year-old computer systems were upgraded over Labor Day weekend. The snafu affected tens of thousands of claims, delaying payments by several weeks, causing many to fall behind on rent, car payments and other bills.
Last week, after working for weeks to clear the logjam, Marty Morgenstern, the state’s secretary of Labor and Workforce Development, ordered the EDD to immediately pay out all delayed claims and verify eligibility later.
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Late Wednesday, the EDD said it had processed all the claims. But many say that’s not true.
Chris Harris, an unemployed building permit consultant from San Pedro, is among them.
Harris said that as of Thursday, he has not received a payment since filing on Sept. 23.
“The EDD website states that ALL the people who were backlogged have been paid, which is completely untrue,” he wrote by email.
Efforts to find out what happened to his payment have been futile, he said.
“I have been unable to speak to an employee, have been hung up on on numerous occasions, and they fail to reply to my emails I send, which have been two at this point.”
Loree Levy, an EDD spokeswoman, promised to look into Harris’ case after a reporter from the Los Angeles Times asked her to do so Thursday. She stressed, though, that none of that information could be shared with the reporter because of confidentiality considerations.
Later that same day, an EDD staffer called Harris. Harris said he was told that “there was no way that my individual case could be looked into... he likened it to having buckets and buckets full of envelopes and that they would have to search through them by hand.”
Harris said he was dumbfounded that the EDD could not report to him on the status of his claim. Others have echoed similar problems when phone representatives say they can’t find information on previous claims submissions.
The EDD said Wednesday that it paid $35 million in backlogged claims following Morgenstern’s order. Since Sept. 1, the agency has paid $700 million to those in the employer-funded Unemployment Insurance program.
The agency also said that Morgenstern’s order applied to 101,000 claims. Of those, 81,000 were processed and paid. The remaining 20,000 claims were deemed ineligible for the expedited payments, Levy said.
The computer snafu is the latest problem to plague the EDD, which has been forced to reduce services in recent months because of federal budget cuts. The agency no longer answers its unemployment hotline in the afternoons, and its regional jobs centers have lost some funding.
Levy told The Times last week that officials expected some hiccups with the system upgrade “but we didn’t know it’d be to this magnitude.”
Since Labor Day, those affected by the computer problems have taken to Facebook and an online forum to vent and share their experiences.
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