The EDD now stopped accepting new claims for two weeks, until Oct. 5, while it "resets" to a new system.
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Kim Nicol of Santa Rosa is one of the 600,000 workers who still have no benefits months after losing their jobs.
"I've been waiting since August. Aug. 1," she says.
"You can't get through the customer service line, eight till noon -- forget it." Michael Hurley of Concord has been waiting since June. "Absolutely no faith in the system, none at all."
The EDD blocked benefits for both workers, saying they needed to prove they are who they say they are. Like thousands of others, they mailed in paper documents verifying their identity -- but heard nothing back.
The EDD has required thousands of workers to verify their identities as it tries to weed out rampant fraud, but the governor's task force found scammers still got paid while honest workers were blocked from benefits.
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During a two-week reset, the EDD will install new technology that automatically verifies applicants' true identity.
"We are not immune from those fraud efforts and we are making real progress to weed them out,'' said Newsom. "What we're doing as part of this two-week reset is implementing a new automated ID verification system, we've come up with a system called 'ID.Me,' this will process about 90 percent (of claims) automatically. It can substantially, not completely, but substantially mitigate fraud."
The governor said the two-week hiatus in claims won't delay new applications.
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"The reset does not mean that those of you who are now for the first time applying for benefits will be impacted in terms of those benefits being provided,'' Gov. Newsom said. "Quite the contrary -- we believe this will fast-track the likelihood you would otherwise have gone into a manual process that could take up to 60 days. Unacceptable."
7 on Your Side's Michael Finney asked Gov. Newsom if these fixes will make a difference.
"Good afternoon, Governor," said Finney. "Are you really confident that six months of failure and years of mismanagement and neglect can be fixed with a two-week reset?"
Gov. Newsom said the EDD must move into the modern era and that will take more than two weeks.
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"We're taking advantage of all the contemporary information we have learned over the last six months to make sure we're not paving over the old cow path. That we're not just moving forward with something that made a lot of sense a year ago, but makes no sense based on the volume and the experience we've had over the last six months. So to answer your question is we're making short-term commitments and we have medium-term strategies, but we're here for the long haul, we're going to get this right."
Bottom line: what does this "reset" mean for folks who are still waiting for their benefits?
- According to the EDD, pre-pandemic, 2,312 claims per day needed to be processed manually. By the week ending August 20, that number jumped to 24,147. EDD's new "ID.me" tool will purportedly "reduce the number of claims requiring manual attention to about 3,500 per day."
- The EDD says that the two-week "reset" period will allow them to get their new systems up and running -- and running more quickly and efficiently. According to the EDD Strike Force's report, if a "claimant waited until the identity verification tool implementation is complete, they would be far more likely to be automatically validated, go through the automated process, and receive a timelier payment." The report further says that the two week delay will essentially be absorbed by the regular timeline of processing a claim, and that "will make no difference in the speed with which claimants get paid."
- The EDD also claims that the new system will weed out fraudsters by more accurately verifying claimants' identities.
- During the reset period, new claimants will be able to fill out a "pre-application form" that "collects their name and email address, provides them with guidance about what documents to gather and communicates reasons for the temporary process. When the new identity verification tool integration is complete, EDD can reopen the application form in UI Online and email everyone who filled out the form inviting them back to apply."
- The EDD says that this period will not affect current, ongoing claims -- those who are already receiving benefits should continue to get them on time.
See more stories and videos from 7 On Your Side here.
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