New Upgrades for the Unemployment Insurance (UI) System
November 8, 2013, 4:30 p.m.
Updated: General information on certifications and information on initial processing backlog and delayed payments
The EDD is upgrading its 30-year-old unemployment payment processing system. California has by far the largest UI program in the nation and we are busy transitioning to the new system in order to bring greater conveniences to our customers and greater efficiencies to our operations.
The internal part of that system launched over Labor Day weekend and the external part called UI Online will launch in the next few months.
- Since launch, the EDD has paid more than $1.6 billion in total unemployment benefits and processed more than 4.2 million certifications for continued benefits through our new payment processing system. Our system is currently processing more than 80% of all certifications on the same day they are received. The remaining 20% are forwarded to staff for typical eligibility review to ensure the claimant has met all requirements for ongoing benefits including being able, available and looking for work.
- It’s important to note that there have always been 20 – 30% of all certifications that get forwarded for manual review by staff because of UI program eligibility requirements. In some cases, there was an error made by the claimant on the form, and in others there is some kind of eligibility issue that staff must research with the claimant. Only when issues are cleared and it’s validated that the claimant meets eligibility requirements can such certifications for benefits be paid. This is a normal part of the UI program which is based on a complex set of laws and regulations.
- It’s expected that once the public portion of our new payment processing system called UI Online is available to customers to use and clarify information right away, the number of certifications that must be forwarded for manual review will decrease. That will help EDD expedite processing and paying of benefits for our customers.
UI Program Legal Requirements
The UI program is an eligibility-based system where regular unemployment benefits are paid by employers. Throughout the history of the program:
- 20 – 30% of all applications for benefits have to be reviewed by staff because there’s a potential eligibility issue involving how the individual left his or her job, or whether or not he or she earned enough in wages while they were working to qualify for benefits.
- Of those, a full 50 – 60% of the claimants do not meet the eligibility requirements to qualify for benefits designed to help replace lost wages.
- And if the claimant is eligible to establish a claim, that individual must continue to meet all eligibility requirements on a weekly basis in order to receive continuing benefits. It is not unusual at all for someone to be eligible for benefits in one bi-weekly period and not the next.
This process requires all claimants to submit a continued claim form every two weeks verifying that they remain eligible for each week to receive continued benefits. Our new payment processing system helps us by automatically reviewing these ongoing certifications for eligibility and forwarding eligible ones for payment without the need for staff intervention. Those certifications that are straight-forward and absent of errors can be processed and paid within a matter of days. Those that contain errors or more complex eligibility issues such as not being able to work due to an injury or illness will be forwarded to staff for review and potential clarification from the claimant.
Initial Processing Backlog and Delayed Payments
The EDD currently has about 770,000 people certifying for ongoing benefits after establishing a UI claim. The vast majority of these customers have continued to receive their benefits without interruption.
However, a subset of our customers, an estimated 148,000, experienced delayed payments due to a backlog of certifications in early September. This was due to the temporary impacts of converting old claim data into the new system. This has since been resolved for all of our current claimants.
The EDD sincerely apologizes to those customers who did suffer the impact of our temporary backlog. We continue to commit all available resources to completing the transition to our new system as quickly as possible. As with any new major infrastructure project, we are closely monitoring our system. We have a process in place to identify and resolve any issues that may come up so we can minimize any impacts on our customers while we investigate and put more permanent adjustments in place.
The EDD has paid all individuals who could be paid dating back to our system launch through either regular processing or through the expedited processing method applied in late September to help us eliminate the certification backlog.
- As announced in the EDD news release and on the EDD website in early October, a total of approximately 81,000 claimants were paid benefits prior to the completion of an eligibility review. Such reviews would be done at a later date. These claimants were issued payments for certifications received between September 2nd and 21st.
- While the EDD believes most of these claimants will be found eligible, there will be some who could face an overpayment when an eligibility review is eventually completed. Notices have gone out to all of the 81,000 people paid through the expedited processing method to make them aware of a possible overpayment established in the future. The notices advise claimants that no additional action is required on their part and they do not need to contact the EDD to provide further information. The EDD will contact claimants if additional information is later needed to complete an eligibility review.
- We made note at that time that those customers who are supplementing reduced wages with some reduced level of unemployment benefits should especially be aware they could eventually face an overpayment. This is due to the fact that we were unable to use the wage and/or work information these customers may have already provided to make the appropriate deductions at that time to their weekly benefit amount.
If someone still believes they are due payment dating back to the launch of our new system, they are likely either ineligible, or their case is pending due to more complex challenges which have always existed in the UI program, such as:
- The individual has yet to have their initial claim established due to more complex issues involving severance pay, missing wage information, an employer protest, a military claim which can take up to 60 days to finalize wage information, an identity alert issue, or other more complex eligibility issues.
Recommendations for Customers
As part of our constant evaluation to improve service through this transition, we have implemented a couple of dedicated channels to assist customers who may be experiencing an issue with their claim. It is important for our customers to understand that until we complete our transition and implement the public portion of our new system, it could take a couple of additional days for customers to receive their payments if eligible. That means it could take 4 or 5 days to receive payment after submitting your certification form instead of 2 to 3 days to which many of our customers may have grown accustomed to. These are not late payments.
- But if a customer for some reason has not received payment or has not heard from the EDD by receiving a notice about a potential eligibility issue within 10 days of submitting his or her certification, the EDD has staff available to investigate your claim status. Because of reduced phone service due to federal underfunding issues, we strongly encourage our customers to send us an email through AskEDD on our website and follow these instructions:
- Select “Unemployment Insurance” for the category
- Select “Payments” for the sub-category
- Select “Where’s My Payment?” for the topic
- In addition, after eliminating the initial backlog due to converted old claim data, some impacted customers then encountered some delays in getting all of the certification forms they needed to continue collecting benefits. The EDD has implemented further automation to resolve this issue as well. But if a customer still has benefits remaining on their claim and did not receive their next claim form when receiving their most recent payment, then we encourage customers to once again email us through AskEDD and follow these instructions to reach an inbox staff are closely monitoring:
- Select “Unemployment Insurance” for the category
- Select “Claim Form” for the sub-category
- Select “Need Replacement Form” for the topic
- We have also now completed adjustments to our Web-CertSM and Tele-CertSM systems for submitting certifications for ongoing benefits. Currently, we have about 70% of all of our customers sending in paper forms every two weeks of their claims. This is a more time-consuming method for processing and paying your benefits. You can help us expedite the processing of your certifications by submitting such forms electronically online or through the phone. You no longer have to have used either Web-CertSM or Tele-CertSM the very last time you certified in order to use one of these more expedited methods. We strongly encourage our customers to certify for their ongoing benefits through one of these options.
Special Note for UI Claimants
Once we launch the new UI Online with new conveniences for our customers in the coming months, any certifications received will be directly entered into the new payment processing system instead of relying on interconnections with our pre-existing intake channels like Web-CertSM and Tele-CertSM. In addition:
- The new UI Online will include an e-mail feature for directly communicating with us on specifics of your claim if you have questions. This will greatly enhance our ability to receive your questions and have your claim info readily available to help us respond.
- The new UI Online will include automated features that will not allow any certification to be submitted before claimants can correct any errors first, like answering yes and no to the same questions or not supplying details on any wages you earned in that time period. This will prevent the time-consuming process of a certification being forwarded over to staff to set up an interview with the claimant, collect any further information needed, and then proceed to processing certifications.
We ask for the help of our customers in using self-service tools whenever possible, so our limited staff can be directed to assist customers with more complex needs.
What Else Can UI Customers Do?
We are working to process all certifications received from our customers. If a customer does have a claim related question, we strongly encourage them to avoid the frustration of trying to get through to a representative by phone and instead contact the department through Ask EDD.
- For those awaiting payment, we recommend you sign up for alerts from Bank of America EDD Debit CardSM website once a payment is posted to your debit card. You can also call the UI self-service automated line for daily updates on payments issued: 1-866-333-4606.
- We are unfortunately understaffed due to federal funding reductions at a time when demand remains more than twice what it was before the recent recession. We simply cannot continue to support all channels of service, and customers do have alternatives to the phone. Our staff focus instead is on processing claims and payments and getting through this transition to our new system. The more we can get our customers using the self-service tools we have made available, the more our limited staff can be available to take care of claims with more complex needs.
- The EDD website also features information on some additional resources available in California communities that may help you, including basic necessities and food assistance.
- The EDD also strongly encourages our customers to monitor this Web page over the next few months as we progress in new upgrades to the UI payment processing system. We will continually post updates to this page and to our EDD Facebook and EDD Twitter pages in an effort to keep our customers informed and prepared. Also, with UI Online coming soon, you can stay up to date with new developments and features by subscribing to receive e-mail notices.
- Apply for UI or Reopen a UI Claim
- Certify for UI Benefits
- Access UI Payment Information
- Forms and Publications
- More Help for the Unemployed
Top Links This Month
- EDD Web-CertSM
- Ways to File
- UI Telephone Numbers
- Where is My Payment
- Managing Your UI Benefits
- Benefit Determination Guide