SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Fresh from his recent recall victory, where poor Employment Development Department performance was a major issue, Governor Gavin Newsom just signed a number of bills into law to improve the service and success of the EDD for beleaguered claimants.
The governor signed a raft of bills further forcing the EDD to clean up and streamline its act; a small consolation to those on the backlog of claims.
"I've been waiting nine months," said Tina Chancellor, an EDD claimant. "To me, it's not fixing anything," said EDD claimant Rodney Kendall.
One new law mandates that EDD give applicants advanced notice that they will deny claims and how to challenge such a denial.
"Drained our savings account. I got one check for $450 and you know, fast forward to today, I don't think there's been any change in EDD," said Kendall. "We're drowning in medical bills right now And, I have been looking for work. so, it's not like I'm not trying," said Chancellor.
Another requires that EDD set up an anti-fraud bureau and help claimants whose identity has been stolen.
To further protect claimants from identity theft, another law forbids EDD and other state agencies to send out communications with Social Security numbers, by 2023, so that fraudsters can't steal them.
Yet, another requires the Department of Corrections to release inmate identity information, so that EDD can cross check that information against tens of thousands of fraudulent claims, filed by or on the name of prisoners; who ripped the state off for more than $800 million dollars.
"And there was no safeguards which would have been common sense in place in order to eliminate this fraud," said Kendall.
Finally another law requires EDD to establish comprehensive plans to deal with future claim tidal waves whether from recessions, disasters or pandemics so there will be less tensions with clients.
"Called me an ‘F-in B-I-T-C-H and told me it was people like me that make her job difficult,'" said Chancellor.
While EDD boasts that it pays 83% of claims within the first week, it still has upwards of 200,000 delayed claims older than three weeks, many of them delayed for months and months and months