CA EDD cuts benefits to new moms as it investigates massive disability fraud

ByRenee Koury KGO logo
Wednesday, March 9, 2022
EDD cuts benefits to new moms amid massive disability fraud
Bringing a new baby into the world is a time of joy and stress. But as many brought their newborns home, they found the EDD had frozen their benefits.

FAIRFIELD, Calif. (KGO) -- Bringing a new baby into the world is a time of joy as well as stress for new moms and dads.

But as many new moms brought their newborns home in recent weeks, they found the EDD had frozen their benefits, flagging them as potential frauds as EDD cracked down on a massive disability scam.

It brought tears and anguish to these moms during the first weeks of life for their babies. While dealing with postpartum emotions, sleepless nights, hourly feedings -- and just trying to enjoy time with their newborns, they also had to fight the EDD.

Alexis Davidson and her family were filled with joy when little Quinn was born on New Year's Day -- just a little ahead of schedule.

"Yeah, a week early. We were the first ones to give birth at North Bay Hospital here in Fairfield," said Davidson.

But like many new moms, Davidson also faced new difficulties.

RELATED: EDD tells young woman to prove she's a real worker, then locks her out as deadline approaches

The Department of Labor has agreed not to make workers repay benefits they received by mistake, as long as they were not obtained by fraud.

"Not only did I have an unexpected C-section, I ended up having an infection of the incision," she said.

She was struggling to recover, while also caring for her newborn and 2-year-old daughter Penelope -- then, a blow from the most unexpected place.

The EDD.

"I'm not getting a check in the mail. And I haven't heard from the EDD..." Davidson realized the EDD had stopped paying her disability benefits without any notice.

"I was spending a lot of time calling the EDD," she said.

After days of trying to get through, an agent finally picked up.

RELATED: Nearly 1M self-employed suddenly required to prove they deserved EDD benefits or pay it all back

"'Oh your case has been marked as fraud...' And I was really surprised to find out about that," Davidson said.

Turns out hers was among 345,000 claims flagged as potential fraud and frozen by the EDD to crack down on a massive disability scam.

Davidson and her doctor both had to prove they were legit or she'd lose benefits for good. Yet no one notified her or her doctor.

Davidson was supposed to be on bed rest. But an EDD agent told her to clear up her case by going to the disability office in Sacramento. "'You can go to the disability office in Sacramento and they can verify, you know, everything there,'" she said she was told.

"Great, I'm dealing with an infection, I'm supposed to be lying down, and I also have a newborn baby and it's in the middle of COVID and omicron..." Davidson said.

She drove an hour with her baby to the EDD building. Mom and baby waited nearly four hours, in a crowded room with others also looking for answers.

RELATED: EDD claims Lakeport man is in prison, orders him to return his jobless benefits

This matter took on added urgency because his benefits have been frozen until this is resolved. He can't understand why EDD is doing this to him.

"It's nerve-racking to sit in a small room with a crying newborn trying to take care of this stuff. You want to get out as quickly as possible but you're, you're stuck there for hours on end," she said.

But even worse? When it was finally her turn at the counter -- no one there could help.

"They have no idea what I'm talking about. They can't handle any of these fraud type claims and they had no answers," Davidson said.

She was told to mail in her identification -- never mind that she was standing right there with her new baby and all her documents.

"I can show you my C-section scar. And a birth certificate with all our names on it, and what more could you want?" she asked.

The same thing happened to Amanda Miroyan of San Jose. She was dealing with complications from delivering her baby, Dylan, when EDD froze her benefits. "As if I have nothing better to do than a crying baby in the background as I'm trying to get through to the phone," she said.

RELATED: California couple battles EDD bureaucracy after finding $25,000 in stolen unemployment money

The huge unemployment fraud scandal at the EDD has reached into the lives of ordinary citizens. A Bay Area couple got a surprise from the EDD -- a tax form saying they owe income taxes on the benefits fraudsters claimed in their names.

When she finally got through by phone, the EDD had no answers.

"And she basically just kept repeating, saying, 'We're having delays, you know just wait, it's being processed,' and I said I've waited three months..." Miroyan said.

Out of desperation Miroyan, too, went to an EDD office with her newborn in tow. They waited four hours in a stuffy room.

"I eventually called my husband to... leave work and come help me... in case he got hungry, or fussy, I didn't want him exposed to all these people in this small little room, you know, COVID and everything? And then yeah, you get basically no answers, wait three hours to get no answers," she said.

With nowhere to turn, they came to 7 On Your Side. 7 On Your Side told the EDD this freeze was affecting newborns and their families. And the EDD listened.

"A huge relief... overnight they were able to solve the problem," Miroyan said.

RELATED: CA lawmaker says it's time to 'radically change' the EDD as benefit extensions delayed

The EDD reached out directly to their doctors to verify their credentials, and, yes, to verify these were real babies - really born!

And EDD issued all the payments they'd missed.

"With your help it's something they were able to resolve in 24 hours. Kind of mind blowing," said Miroyan.

"Such a relief. It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders," said Davidson.

These moms are not alone in this struggle. Many others also came forward - including one mom who was ordered to remain stress-free during a high risk pregnancy - unfortunately it was anything but stress-free.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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