SACRAMENTO (July 22nd, 2021) —The Employment Development Department (EDD) today announced that it will begin paying unemployment insurance claimants who certified for benefits and already received at least one week of benefits in the past, but whose payments have now been pending for at least two weeks.
This new conditional payment program, which is consistent with recent federal guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor, benefits people with a continued claim who previously had at least one payment but then went into a pending status for more than two weeks. This pending status occurs for many reasons, such as a claimant’s answer to a biweekly certification question that triggered the need for an eligibility interview.
“We know many claimants who cleared fraud filters and verified identity have been waiting too long for payment,” said EDD Director Rita Saenz. “In response, we are launching a new program that will help many Californians get benefits faster.”
The Department will begin sending notices this week to claimants who will benefit from this pay-now policy. Payments will be reaching claimant accounts starting July 23, 2021 and over the following weeks. While the Department determines eligibility, claimants should continue to certify for benefits if they remain unemployed or working reduced hours. The fastest way to certify is through UI online. EDD will continue to pay conditional benefits so long as claimants continue to certify.
Claimants who are paid conditionally under this new program must still be found eligible for unemployment benefits. The Department will be sending notices to these claimants to explain this requirement. Claimants should still participate in any eligibility interview and answer any questions from the Department regarding eligibility.
Due to the unprecedented increase in claims during the pandemic, including the rise in new claims after the end of the benefit year, the Department is now scheduled weeks out for eligibility interviews with some claimants. Today’s move helps ensure the Department continues to pay claimants who already cleared fraud filters and identity verification and certified they are eligible for benefits.
Any benefit paid during EDD’s eligibility review will be an overpayment if the Department later determines the person did not meet eligibility requirements. An overpayment can be waived if the claimant demonstrates a financial hardship and the overpayment was not the claimant’s fault or due to fraud. While there is no ability to opt-out of the conditional payment program according to federal guidance, claimants can stop certifying for benefits if they no longer want to receive benefits.
Further updates and information about the conditional payment program will be posted on the Claim Status webpage.
EDD has taken a number of steps to improve customer service and speed payments this year. The Department is making multi-million dollar investments in multi-lingual services and launching programs to help staff research and resolve issues more quickly. Other actions the Department has taken to improve the customer experience include: running the call center 12 hours a day, seven days a week; calling customers directly from the remote virtual call center to seek clarifying information and resolve claims; and allowing callers to hold their place “in line” at the call center, eliminating the need to wait on hold. Through these and other efforts the Department has paid over $45 billion in benefits this year.