New Upgrades for the Unemployment Insurance (UI) System
August 29, 2014, 2 p.m.
- UI Program Legal Requirements
- Recommendations for Customers
- Special Note for UI Claimants
- What Else Can UI Customers Do?
The EDD is continuing to upgrade its 30-year-old Unemployment Insurance (UI) payment processing system. California has the largest UI program in the nation and the EDD is upgrading its system in order to bring greater conveniences to our customers and greater efficiencies in internal operations. The internal upgrades of the payment processing system launched in September of 2013. Additional upgrades that will allow customers to access their UI claim online, called UI Online, will launch in the spring of 2015. This page will provide updates and developments about the new system and what UI customers will need to know for the launch.
UI Program Legal Requirements
The UI program is an eligibility-based system where regular unemployment benefits are paid by employers. In order to receive benefits, unemployed Californians must file an initial application for benefits and then meet continuing eligibility requirements.
(1) The initial application for benefits: Once becoming fully or partially unemployed, individuals must file an Unemployment Insurance (UI) application with the EDD if they want to receive unemployment benefits. Upon receiving the application, the EDD will send the individual their first bi-weekly form to complete and submit. The EDD will review the application and that first certification form to determine if the individual meets all of the eligibility requirements.
- If the individual is found eligible, he or she can expect to receive the first benefit payment generally within three weeks of submitting the claim information. That payment will likely only contain one week’s worth of benefits because all claims must serve a one-week unpaid waiting period. The waiting period can only be served if all eligibility requirements are met for that week.
- If there is an eligibility issue identified on the claim, the individual will instead receive a notice from the EDD that indicates further information is needed from the individual and/or the former employer to clear the eligibility issue. A phone interview is scheduled and individuals notified by mail.
Throughout the history of the program:
- On average, approximately 20–30% of all applications for benefits must be reviewed by staff because of 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. In those cases, they will receive disqualification notices advising them of the eligibility decision.
(2) The continued claim certification for ongoing benefits: If a customer is found eligible to establish a claim, the individual must submit a continued claim certification every two weeks to verify that he/she remains eligible for each week to receive continued benefits. These certifications for benefits are processed at the EDD through a separate system from the initial applications for 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. It is not unusual at all for someone to be eligible for benefits in one bi-weekly period and not the next.
Recommendations for Customers
As part of our constant evaluation to improve service through this transition, we have some helpful information and suggestions for our UI customers.
(1) Certify Online or By Phone: We strongly encourage our customers to certify for their ongoing benefits online through EDD’s Web-CertSM or by phone through Tele-CertSM. Currently, some of our customers send 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 expedite the processing of your certifications by submitting such forms electronically online or through the phone.
(2) Submit a Question through Ask EDD: The EDD is currently understaffed due to significant federal underfunding. To help us better track e-mails from customers and respond more quickly, we have condensed our UI e-mail categories to 16 major topics. If you are currently having issues or have questions about your claim, you can contact the EDD by submitting an inquiry through Ask EDD. The topics within certain sub-categories below are the current topics available under Unemployment Insurance in Ask EDD.
- Sending Inquiries Online: Please choose one of the topics from the drop-down menu that best applies to your question or issue. Please only submit ONE inquiry. This will help us eliminate the workload associated with duplicate questions and allow our staff to respond to your question more quickly.
- Provide Necessary Information: In addition to submitting only ONE inquiry, we ask that you also include the following information with your question through Ask EDD:
- Full Name.
- Phone number to reach you from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
- Social Security Number.
- Detailed information regarding your claim.
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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 and choose from the revised menu of topics as explained above.
- 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.