SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Assemblymember Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, has officially submitted an emergency request to audit the Employment Development Department.
The EDD is the agency responsible for providing unemployment insurance benefits to Californians.
Salas was joined by a bipartisan group of 37 legislators.
As Chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, I have called for an emergency audit of EDD. Californians are hurting & need immediate relief. We need to identify the department's shortcomings & chart a path forward to help families who are struggling. https://t.co/f3vrI6g2cD pic.twitter.com/tBbIUxNF19— Rudy Salas Jr (@rudysalasjr) September 2, 2020
For months, Californians have complained to lawmakers and news outlets saying EDD was struggling to get them money. Many described calling the department hundreds of times a day trying to speak with someone about a filed claim.
"I'm not going to be able to pay rent, and I'm not going to be able to pay my insurance," said San Diego County resident Jaedra Miller.
Miller says she was receiving money from EDD, but after a few payments, something changed.
"They just flagged my account, and I've been trying to figure out why," she said. "I've been calling, and I completed the paperwork they sent me."
Miller said there's an issue with the effective date on her claim. She told reporter Adam Racusin she believes the dispute caused the money to stop.
"It's just so incredibly frustrating," Miller said. "I've tried so many avenues, and I just I really feel helpless."
In the past six months, the Employment Development Department has taken a verbal beating from Californians and their lawmakers.During a May hearing, lawmakers told the head of EDD they're hearing from constituents who are struggling in the application process, being denied with no explanation, and having difficulty getting in touch with anyone at the department.
"We've never heard the type of suffering that people are experiencing right now, not just in regard to the pandemic, but when they call your bureaucracy," Assemblymember David Chiu said at the time. "The feedback we're getting is atrocious."
Later that month, EDD said in a press release, "The Employment Development Department (EDD) will hire approximately 1,800 new temporary full-time and hourly staff over the next several weeks from throughout California to bolster the delivery of critical Unemployment Insurance (UI) services to workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The workers will be trained in skills including call center operations, processing UI claims, and analyzing documents from claimants and employers to make wage determinations for benefits."
Assemblymember Salas’ emergency audit seeks to do the following:
- Assess the reasons for backlogged unemployment insurance claims and the effectiveness of EDD’s efforts and timeframes for eliminating the backlog, including, but not limited to technological issues, and state or federal laws that have contributed to the delay or prevent EDD from processing claims faster.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of EDD’s actions to improve call center performance and response time. This evaluation should also include EDD’s hiring, on- boarding, and training efforts to increase call center staffing levels.
- Determine the magnitude of EDD’s claims workload, including the number and percentage of claims that were approved, denied, pending, and backlogged since the beginning of the pandemic.
- Assess EDD’s call center capacity and determine trends in the volume of calls received, the time it takes EDD to respond to callers, the percentage of callers connected to a representative, and the number of calls during which the caller was disconnected from the call