SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The EDD faced a state senate inquiry today about how well it's going following the Governor's Strike Team recommendations to get up to speed, get unemployment applicants paid and get rid of its one million plus case backlog.
At best, EDD's rebirth remains a work in slow progress.
Lareece Chambers is not just an EDD applicant, it's fair to call her an EDD victim, who says it's, "Disheartening and disappointing."
After 7 months, all Chambers has received is a grand total of only two weeks of payments; a drop in the bucket of what she is owed and entitled to.
"Because of that, having to max out my credit cards and my credit score dropping and then my savings account, that I was saving up, having to just use all of that. It's just like a horrible feeling," said Chambers.
Today, Senator Jerry Hill held a hearing to see how EDD's 'all hands on deck' effort to clear up more than a million backlogged claims is going.
"Some Californians have had their benefits unfairly delayed or denied which is totally unacceptable," said Senator Jerry Hill, Democrat of San Mateo.
Innocent front line claims processors, hit by the claims tsunami went first.
"We went from working an 8 hour work day 5 days a week to working 7 days per week up to 14 hours a day," said 11 year claims processor Irene Green.
"I'm blessed to do that. But, I also want to avoid 'karoshi' which is a Japanese word meaning dying of overwork on the job," said John Torok, a claims processor for 12 years.
Bringing in thousands of new rookies to handle claims has not gone well.
"We have grave concerns about the customer service being provided because it's not at the level the department traditionally provides," said 13 year claims processor Joyce Wheeler Owens.
"There are significant changes to be addressed but we're optimistic and confident that we can make those happen." said Governor's Strike Team Member Udaya Patnaik.
Getting everything online appears to be the key.
"Three of the four recommendations being most important, have been completed," said EDD Operations Director Carol Williams.
"The 'ID Me' verification tool, recommended by the team, has been installed and is making it easier and faster for claimants to verify their identities when filing for unemployment benefits," said Governor's Strike Team Member Yolanda Richardson.
"When will the backlog be gone?" asked Williams. "We are on track to eliminate the backlog by January 2021."
Just over a month ago, we told the story of a despondent Li Li Clever who told us, "This situation could easily drive a person to suicide where you just feel hopeless and helpless."
After waiting well over 7 months and our story, Clever finally got the money owed her.
"Receiving unemployment was like receiving a lifeline when some many others were throwing me anchors and cannon balls," said Clever.
But, if the pandemic and unemployment surges in the coming weeks, the January "up to speed" goal, is endangered.