SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Californians like April Carlton of Citrus Heights and Latoya Horne from North Highlands shared their stories of frustration with the Employment Development Department during the pandemic after countless efforts to claim their unemployment benefits.
“I’ve been trying to get my case resolved since March, and I’m still fighting for it right now,” Carlton said.
Horne also shared her own story of frustration.
"I find out months later that a gentleman that lived at an old address where I resided at a point in time, at least nine years ago, was receiving EDD there for me. He reach out to me through Facebook Messenger," Horne added.
State Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama) called on the governor, legislature, and EDD to act "expeditiously and clean up the backlog."
The California Assembly Budget Committee held a hearing to discuss changes that EDD made after being given a list of recommendations by the Governor’s EDD Strike Team.
“36 (recommendations) are in progress and the remaining 53 are under evaluation and waiting dependency on the other projects,” said Sharon Hilliard, EDD director.
Hilliard said her department meets weekly with the governor’s office to give updates on unresolved recommendations, and she said that 22 recommendations have been completed, which includes three of the top four recommendations and fixing the issue of fraudulent claims and identity theft.
During EDD’s two-week reset period, Hilliard said the department cleared 250,000 backlog claims. The new "ID.me" identity verification tool is expected to help minimize the manual workload that can cause backlogs, but a complete clearance of EDD’s backlog isn’t expected to happen until January.