California’s labor agency said Wednesday it is whittling away a mountain of unemployment claims filed by workers who lost their jobs amid coronavirus-linked government shutdowns, although glitches persist.
The state Employment Development Department has installed a new identity verification technology and said the tool’s first day of operations Monday helped to speed up the processing of new unemployment claims.
“Already, the new tool has helped serve more than 101,000 Californians seeking unemployment benefits for the first time,” said Sharon Hilliard, director of the state EDD.
There’s a long way to go. As of Sept. 30, the EDD continued to wrestle with a mammoth backlog of 1.56 million unemployment claims that had yet to be processed.
Difficulties remain, even with the launch of the new tool, officially called ID.me.
Problems continue at the EDD’s broken phone center, the agency conceded.
“It is possible that some claimants seeking help from ID.me’s call center did not get assistance given longer-than-average hold times Monday that reached at one point over an hour,” the EDD said Wednesday.
The EDD says it’s not sure why some workers weren’t able to successfully use the ID.me system.
“It’s too soon to draw firm conclusions about why those who did not verify their identity were unable to make it through the process,” Hilliard said.
The EDD vows to assess this unexpected hiccup.
“We will be looking at this data carefully in the weeks ahead to make sure there are no barriers,” Hilliard said.
Last week, the EDD initiated a soft launch of the new ID.me tool. The state agency sent emails and texts to 136,000 people who signed up for an EDD notification that had invited them back to the agency’s online system for unemployment insurance to submit their applications for new unemployment claims.
Of those people, roughly 101,200 attempted to verify their identity through the ID.me tool.
About 65,000 were able to verify their identity, including 59,000 who needed no assistance. Another 6,000 were able to become verified through what the EDD calls a “trusted referee” in a video chat.
By Tuesday, an estimated 36,200 of the group didn’t complete the verification process through the ID.me tool. The EDD said a variety of reasons might have caused these outcomes.
“We are confident this is a giant step forward in helping Californians verify their identity in a simpler, faster way that is helping us block imposter fraud,” Hilliard said. “We continue to refine this new process and smooth the way for applicants.”
Source: Orange County Register