Written by Michael Palomba
California’s Employment Development Department has suspended payments for 1.4 million unemployment claims as part of its fraudulent claim investigation. The department has already suspended 2 million fraudulent accounts.
The problem here is that real people who are relying on unemployment have suddenly had their payments suspended.
One man who lost his job at SeaWorld due to the pandemic said the EDD gave him $12 before freezing his claim. He now faces a negative bank account and no way to get his unemployment payments.
“I did have reserves and they are pretty much gone at this point,” he said.
As we are still in the middle of the pandemic and many people have been unemployed for some time, there couldn’t be a worse time for the EDD to be suspending mass numbers of claims. Friday’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that 140,000 more American’s lost their jobs in December.
The incompetence of the Employment Development Department that allowed fraud like this to happen is now having real effects on people who need unemployment. Not only that, problems with the department have been evident throughout the pandemic, for example, getting to speak to a real person by calling in is almost impossible. The experiences of thousands are well documented on the web. Phone lines are regularly jammed from before phone hours begin until after they close. Callers are met with a message informing them that too many people are calling and aren’t even given the option to remain on hold, the system simply hangs up on them.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed many problems in our state government, but poor management at the EDD may take the cake. Millions of fraudulent cases were approved, with an estimated $40 million in payments going to prison inmates in other states. Now the department needs to clean up the mess it made, and struggling San Diegan’s who have been forced onto unemployment by shutdowns will suffer even more.