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Tech issue at EDD will delay unemployment payments to 'massive' number of Californians

Because of the issue, the EDD said they will not be able to process some payments until March 7, 2021. But one assemblyman says it will be "weeks" longer than that.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Update

At a hearing on Monday, Feb. 8, Employment Development Director Rita Saenz said the state agency is working quickly to pay or certify the 184,000 "potential recipients whose eligibility had expired prior to Dec. 27, 2020."

Original story

Some Californians awaiting unemployment payments from the Employment Development Department (EDD) may have to wait at least another month to receive those funds.

The EDD said the delay in payment is due to a “programming infrastructure” problem. Because of the issue, the EDD said they will not be able to process some new payments until March 7, 2021.

Assemblyman Jim Patterson, said isn’t buying it. In a Zoom press conference with the media, Friday afternoon, Patterson said the EDD knew about their technology issues since January and did not say anything to legislators at an accountability hearing on Feb. 3.

“This new director and her staff came in front of the legislature on Wednesday and they chose to tell us nothing about this. What they did choose, was today, late on a Friday, to inform the media, and the people of California, and the members of the legislature,” he said.

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Patterson, a Republican who represents Fresno, criticized the EDD, saying the issue at the agency is a familiar problem, “dinosaur technology.” He also said he feared that, despite the March 7 date given by the EDD, people could be waiting much longer.

“We actually believe it’s going to be weeks and weeks longer [for people to receive unemployment payments],” Patterson said. “They’re going to have to start processing [on March 7] and we know how their processing goes.”

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It is unclear just how many unemployment recipients will be impacted by this issue. Patterson said he expects it will be a “massive number” of Californians and said the EDD themselves did not know the exact number.

After the press conference, Patterson forwarded an email to ABC10 from EDD showing its plan to start notifying individuals via email “in the next week.”

“They will receive emails, texts, or mailed notices in a few weeks telling them when the new additional up to 11 weeks of benefits are available to them for certifying their eligibility,” the email reads.

The email states that those impacted include those who "ran out of their Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) prior to the end of the CARES Act on December 26 which created a gap in benefits."

Also in the email to legislators, the EDD says they are “working on the programming needed to essentially establish new claims incorporating the up to 11 additional weeks of benefits payable for weeks beginning December 27.”

(Editor's Note:  This story has been edited from the original with updated information from the EDD)

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