SACRAMENTO, Calif. — It’s been one of the most frustrating experiences for people trying to get unemployment benefits in California. They log into their UI Online account with the Employment Development Department (EDD) only to see their payments are pending.
Dozens of people have told ABC10's Dollars and Sense team that they have been "stuck in pending" for weeks, or even months, unable to get their money. “Why isn’t anything being done about claimants still stuck on pending,” Patrick asked the ABC10 team. He hasn’t been paid in nearly four months.
On a call with the EDD, they confirmed that in most cases, a pending notice means that the department needs to do something on their end to get you paid. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people waiting on EDD to act right now. The department’s dashboard shows as of mid-April, more than 120,000 claims were waiting more than 21 days for EDD action.
YouTuber Ginny Silver, who keeps her subscribers updated on changes at EDD, said a lack of communication is one of the key reasons that "stuck in pending" is so frustrating.
“It's a big problem because there's a variety of different reasons why someone could be stuck in pending. And for the majority of those reasons the EDD does not reach out to claimants directly,” Silver said. “If they do reach out directly, it takes them quite some time for them to reach out.”
Silver said the top reasons she hears for people to be stuck pending include:
- People who need to finalize their identity verification
- Waiting on EDD to approve identity verification
- Stop payment alerts
- End of Benefit Year
Her best advice for people stuck in pending is to call customer service and get help from an EDD representative. However, reaching someone at the EDD is difficult as they are only answering about 10% of calls right now. So, Silver has some advice to try and see if you can fix the problem on your own.
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Need to finalize identity verification
Since the beginning of the year, the EDD has asked hundreds of thousands of people to verify or re-verify their identities. Most people are being asked to do this through ID.me, but Silver said some people are missing a final step needed to finish the process.
“ID.me shows you a green checkmark and it emails you at the end of your ID verification process,” Silver said. “Now many claimants miss the very last step of the ID verification process and aren't aware that they miss a step because there's kind of a misleading message that pops up. The ID verification on ID.me will tell you after you have scanned your ID document and after you've done your video selfie… ID.me will tell you this is complete. And then very small down below it says now return to your browser and complete the last step, and so many people miss that.”
Waiting on EDD to confirm identification
Another reason people end up "stuck on pending" is that the EDD needs to take the final steps on its end to verify claimants’ identities.
“In most cases, the EDD applies this automatically and then they send you a text message,” Silver said. “But for some claimants, their ID verification was sent from ID.me and was just sitting with the EDD dormant. A call into customer service allowed them to kind of kickstart the EDD applying that to their claim.”
Stop Payment Alerts
Stop Payment Alerts can be one of the most confusing reasons to be stuck in pending because it can be difficult to figure out the error on your own. Silver said the alert “is basically something that triggers the system that says 'hey, this claim might not be entitled to benefits' and it puts a hold on their payments.”
One of the biggest reasons for Stop Payment Alerts right now is the way people are answering the certification questions.
“Many claimants who are entitled to receive benefits, but maybe they are someone who is perhaps staying home to care for a child or a sick loved one, etc.,” Silver said. “They might be answering the certification questions in a way that is related to the pandemic but the system isn't programmed for it necessarily.”
1. Were you too sick or injured to work?
A No Answer
Answer No if either:
- You were physically able to work each workday or start a new job, if offered.
- You were diagnosed with COVID-19 and able to work.
A Yes Answer
Answer Yes if either:
- You were unable to work because of an illness or injury that was not related to COVID-19.
- You had to delay starting a new job because of illness or injury that was not related to COVID-19.
If you answer Yes, you may be scheduled for an eligibility interview to get more information, which could delay your payment.
If yes, enter the number of days (1 through 7) you were unable to work.
You must report the number of days you were too sick or injured to work this week. You will not receive benefits for those days.
Details: Unemployment benefits are paid based on the number of days you were able to work each week. Your benefits are reduced for each day you cannot work because of an illness or injury.
2. Was there any reason (other than sickness or injury) that you could not have accepted full-time work each workday?
A No Answer
Answer No if you were ready and willing to accept work in your field that matches your job skills and background, even if your past employer is now closed.
A Yes Answer
Answer Yes if you could not immediately accept work for reasons other than the COVID-19 pandemic. If you answer Yes, you may be scheduled for an eligibility interview to get more information, which could delay your payment.
Details: Unemployment benefits are paid if you are available to accept full-time work. In some situations, you can work part time and still be paid benefits. If so, you will receive more information.
The EDD has put together a guide to better explain all eight of the questions, and you can find the full guide here. You can also click on the blue question mark next to each certification question in your UI Online account for more details.
If your reason for "stuck in pending" is related to the way you answered the certification questions, you will need an eligibility interview with the EDD to clear the stop payment.
The EDD said it has started calling claimants directly to help resolve the question and in some cases avoid the determination interview.
To verify that it is the EDD calling you, the department said you should “see a caller ID that will show “St of CA EDD” or the UI Customer Service number 1-800-300-5616 during business hours. The representative calling will know the claimant’s EDD Customer Account Number.”
End of Benefit Year
One more reason people may be stuck on pending is that they reached the end of their benefit year.
The EDD defines your benefit year as the 12-month period after you filed your claim for benefits.
Once your benefit year ends, you are required to apply for a new claim if you are currently on:
- Regular UI
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) extension
- Federal-State Extended Duration (FED-ED) extension
People on PUA do not need to apply for a new claim.
The problem arises when people reach the end of their benefit year, but do not know about it.
“Now, if a claim has reached the end of its benefit year, the EDD for many claimants is still populating certifications, even though they're not eligible to receive payments under that claim,” Silver said. “The EDD is still populating those certifications. And so, claimants are certifying for those weeks, and they are stuck in pending and they are eventually moved to not paid or disqualified.”
The end of the benefit year can be confusing. The EDD had an issue with a missing button that was stopping 178,000 people from reapplying, and there are different steps you need to take depending on what type of unemployment benefits you are receiving.