EDD Mishandled California Unemployment Claims, Auditor Says

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

In a scathing report, California’s auditor said the state Employment Development Department flubbed handling the deluge of unemployment claims triggered by the pandemic, leaving the door open for massive fraud while forcing many legitimate claimants to struggle for benefits.

The agency now is likely to be swamped trying to fix its mistakes, while many Californians may be forced to repay benefits EDD failed to adequately monitor, the report said.

The 78-page report’s title summed it up: “EDD’s poor planning and ineffective management left it unprepared to assist Californians unemployed by COVID-19 shutdowns.” EDD knew for years that its claim process and call center were plagued by problems and failed to prepare for an economic downturn, the report said.

State lawmakers, who are besieged by constituents desperate to get their benefits, said the auditor validated what they had observed.

“Government is supposed to be there for its people, especially now when they need help the most,” said Assembly Member Phil Ting, D-San Francisco. “Based on that metric alone, EDD has failed to deliver, and the state audit confirms that. ... Ongoing delays have had real-life consequences, resulting in people unable to put food on the table or pay their rent.”