More than 3 million Californians are expected to receive lost wages assistance payments by the end of this week, after the state's employment development department took two weeks to tackle "fraud" and "reduce" their backlog.
The payments will be sent to qualifying residents who previously collected regular unemployment insurance or pandemic emergency unemployment.
The payments will be in the form of a $600 check or two separate checks in the amount of $300.
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The EDD was under a two-week reset period, which ended Monday, During that time, the department did not accept new unemployment claims.
The decision came as Gov. Gavin Newsom released his highly anticipated task force report on the EDD's massive delays in delivering benefits for millions of Californians who suddenly lost their jobs during the pandemic. The task force found that 600,000 workers did not receive benefits they applied for since at least the beginning of September. Another 1 million workers who started getting benefits were suddenly cut off for various reasons and are still waiting for EDD to resolve issues and restore their payments.
The report found the biggest roadblock to benefits stems from the EDD's efforts to stop scammers from filing false claims and raking in benefits. Some legislators suspect fraudsters have collected millions of dollars in benefits while legitimate workers still wait. The EDD has been requiring identity verification for possibly millions of applicants in the effort to weed out fraud.
However, officials say the verification system is slow and outdated, preventing legitimate workers from getting their benefits.
The new ID.me identity verification technology also launches Monday. The EDD says the tool will improve the process of applying for unemployment benefits or effectively verifying the identity of people receiving claims and stopping scammers.
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The EDD says it has taken action to suspend suspicious high-volume claims filed at the same address.
Since March, the department has paid $94 billion in unemployment benefits.
Meanwhile, California reported a backlog of roughly 1.6 million unemployment claims. The EDD says those claims are from people who are waiting more than 21 days for their first or second payment.
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