Benefiting Californians | December 2023

Welcome to the new Employment Development Department (EDD) newsletter, where we will share our story as the administrator of one of the nation’s largest public benefit systems—with over 21 million people filing 63 million unemployment, disability, and Paid Family Leave benefits claims over the past decade. We’re also the State’s largest tax collection agency and an integral player in the State’s workforce development system. This newsletter will help us transparently share our progress with some regular communication to help better inform you on the major changes impacting EDD customers.


New Partner Announced for EDD Electronic Benefit Payments

blue credit card and white envelope set on table

We are changing the financial partner we use to issue prepaid debit cards for unemployment, disability, and Paid Family Leave benefit payments. Beginning February 15, 2024, benefits will issue to new, enhanced Money Network prepaid debit cards with microchips and no longer to Bank of America debit cards. The partnership with Money Network will allow us to provide the direct deposit of benefit payments into customer bank accounts coming later in the new year, along with enhanced support for customer communications that includes 24/7 contact center assistance in multiple languages.

Californians receiving benefits after January 15, 2024, should be on the lookout for the new Money Network Cards in the weeks that follow. They will arrive in a plain, white, letter-sized envelope from the Employment Development Department (EDD) with an Omaha, Nebraska (NE) return address. We will not mail a new card to EDD benefit customers who have received all of the benefits on their claim or have returned to work and are no longer receiving benefits after January 15.

Current Bank of America debit cards will remain active until April 15, 2024 – the last day customers can use that card as they normally do to make payments, cash withdrawals, and purchases. We encourage all customers to withdraw or transfer any remaining balance on their Bank of America card before that date.

California has taken numerous actions to safeguard customer information and smooth the transition to the Money Network Cards. First, the cards will be secure chip cards with tap-to-pay technology to help protect our customers against fraud and skimming attacks. Second, all new benefit customers must still undergo identity verification and clear fraud filters.

We remind customers to remain vigilant and beware of scammers. We will never request personal information by text message, email, or social media. Text messages asking to activate a benefits debit card by selecting a link are scams. EDD text messages only link to websites that include “”. Visit our Fight Fraud webpage for tips on how to avoid scams.

Unemployment Applications Available in UI Online in Chinese and Vietnamese

Man and woman reading information on laptop in their preferred language

We are expanding language access in our myEDD web portal and UI Online for individuals to apply for unemployment benefits and manage their claims via applications translated into Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Vietnamese, in addition to our current Spanish option, providing greater access for individuals to apply for unemployment benefits online. The new language options will be available starting on December 14, 2023. In March 2024, we will further expand language access to include Korean, Armenian, and Tagalog. These languages represent the top seven languages spoken in California by working-age adults.

Unemployment customers can access the UI Online process in their preferred language, and they will receive real-time updates about the status of their claim, including payment notifications sent by email and text message. Within UI Online, customers can certify for benefits, check payment information, reopen an existing claim, update contact information, reschedule an eligibility phone interview, and send secure messages to unemployment customer service agents. We have established dedicated phone lines in the top seven languages for customers who need assistance navigating these additional claim processes in their preferred language.

The myEDD portal, which was launched in June, features multiple functional enhancements that were informed and influenced by customer and stakeholder input, such as a more secure login verification process that makes password recovery easier. 

Individuals must create a myEDD account and then register for UI Online, the fastest and most convenient way to apply and manage an unemployment claim. For languages other than English, customers should select the globe icon at the top of the myEDD login page, revealing a menu of currently-available language options. They'll log in to myEDD, select UI Online, and provide all requested information, including their first and last name, date of birth, Social Security number, and EDD Customer Account Number.

New language additions and enhancements to myEDD are part of EDDNext, a multi-year modernization effort to completely transform the customer and employee experiences based on research and feedback.


Amazon Web Services Collaborates with the EDD to Improve Customer Service for Californians

Blue cloud icon and EDD logo set on top of a blue icon of California

Earlier this year, we began working with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and InterVision, a leading IT managed services provider, to implement Amazon Connect. This cloud-based, modern contact center platform will transform the EDD customer and employee experiences. Amazon Connect will empower our customers with a seamless experience by harnessing the latest technology across voice calls, live chat, chatbot and self-service functionality.

“Amazon shares our commitment to innovation and we are joining forces with them to improve our contact centers,” said EDD Director Nancy Farias.

“AWS looks forward to working with the EDD to deliver a citizen experience that exceeds the expectations of Californians,” said Kim Majerus, VP of Global Education and US State and Local Government at AWS. “Together, we’re taking a forward-thinking approach, aligning with the evolving needs of citizens, while also building a foundation with the most advanced and scalable cloud technology to help the EDD achieve their mission.”  

“Ensuring consistent communication is paramount for critical departments like the EDD,” said Jonathan Lerner, CEO of InterVision. “InterVision is proud to team up with AWS and the EDD to modernize the Department’s contact center experience, helping to provide reliable, high-quality access and intelligently automated chat features to streamline customer service for the citizens of California.”

Our agents will have a full view of customer interactions across voice calls, live chat, and chatbots – ensuring a seamless customer experience. Amazon Connect supports many languages, and with natural-language processing, it enables California’s diverse communities to engage with our contact centers in their preferred languages – expanding equitable access to EDD services.

Starting in early 2024, improvements to the Disability Insurance and Paid Family Leave contact centers will be implemented in phases. Work is already underway to analyze the existing systems for all our programs, gather customer insights, and implement design improvements, including scheduled callback features, live chat with agents, and expanded self-service options. These new tools will help EDD agents deliver, and customers receive, the assistance they may need in navigating their benefit claims.

Enhancing the customer service experience is a key focus of EDDNext, a significant modernization effort to improve benefit systems and completely transform the customer and employee experience.

Language Access Experts Join Forces with the EDD to Enhance Multilingual Services

In January 2024, we are convening external and internal partners of the new Multilingual Access Advisory Committee (MAAC). The MAAC members provide feedback on language access and emerging practices that enhance multilingual services for limited English proficient (LEP) and deaf and hard of hearing communities that we serve.

Erica Chovva-Ruiz, EDD’s Language Access Officer, will chair the committee and is working with community leaders who understand EDD services and language populations. MAAC members have experience working with LEP individuals in addressing labor, workforce development, public benefits, healthcare, and business needs. Members also have experience with advocacy or community-based organizations; academic language programs; working in different California regions, including rural areas; and assisting Californians in languages other than spoken English.

These strong partnerships with our stakeholders will help us continue advancing language access solutions at the EDD.

California Continues to Streamline Benefit Determinations

Woman wearing brown sweater smiling typing on her laptop

The EDD is continuing to speed up the eligibility determination process in cases where we need more information from our customers. Rather than waiting for a phone interview to provide additional information, customers will be able to respond online and upload documents.

By law, the EDD must determine if a person meets eligibility requirements. The vast majority of benefits are issued without the need for an interview or further information. However, a small percentage of claims require EDD review to confirm eligibility.

This new, online Eligibility Questionnaire launches later this month to help those with some of the most common eligibility issues. These common issues include details about why the applicant is no longer working or clarifying application statements.

The new online system is part of EDD’s modernization initiatives and follows efforts to reduce the need for phone interviews with a paper version of the questionnaire, Request for Eligibility Information (DE 4365FF), launched in April 2022.

The new online Eligibility Questionnaire will allow customers to choose how they prefer to provide the additional information. For customers who prefer a phone interview with an EDD agent, including multilingual customers, the phone option remains available.


Meet the EDDNext Deputy Director

EDDNext Deputy Director, Ron Hughes, smiling for camera

Ron Hughes is the Deputy Director of EDD’s newest organizational branch, the EDDNext Modernization and Innovation Branch. He is spearheading one of the largest modernization projects in the history of the EDD and the State of California. His mission is to deliver exceptional customer experiences by modernizing every aspect of how the EDD delivers services. Our Public Affairs team recently sat down with Ron to ask him about the effort and his plans. 

Q: Please tell us a bit about the purpose of the projects under EDDNext.

A: First of all, we learned a lot during the pandemic. We went from hundreds of thousands of people on unemployment benefits to millions. That really exposed the limitations of our legacy systems. EDDNext is a direct result of the lessons learned during that timeframe.

There were more than 200 successful IT projects delivered during that time. However, the work was often reactive and delivered on an emergency basis. EDDNext takes a deliberate and proactive approach to transforming the legacy systems that were exposed during the pandemic and using technology to improve the overall customer experience.

Q: Is this another IT project?

A: It’s a lot more than a technology project. It’s really about changing the way we interact with the public and our employees. We are taking a holistic approach evaluating every contact point our customers have with the EDD. These projects encompass people, policy, and our procedures as well as modernizing the technology.  

Q: Can you share an example of the type of improvements that are underway?

A: All our improvements are really aimed at simplifying access to information needed for both claimants and EDD employees. Our strategy was to prioritize the projects that would have the biggest impact on the public. So, we focused on two of the biggest problem areas: the claims intake process and the contact center. We implemented the new shared customer portal one year ahead of schedule and are modernizing the contact center two years earlier than planned. 

We launched myEDD, a Salesforce based customer portal, that seamlessly integrates with our new contact center solution. It is a modern, flexible, and scalable solution that can handle an unexpected increase in the number of customers and provides for an improved customer experience. Additionally, we implemented multi-factor authentication and a number of ID proofing and fraud prevention technologies. 

We are also in the process of modernizing our contact center from a legacy system to Amazon Connect, a modern, cloud-based solution. We’ll offer additional improvements that will enhance customer experiences when calling in and make it easier for our employees to access all claim information they need in a single, agent console. This will allow our agents to focus on what is most important, responding to the callers accurately and quickly. Improvements will include giving the option for a scheduled callback if callers don’t want to wait on hold, and presenting all of the data on a claim to our employees as soon as they connect on the call. 

Q: What are you doing to keep this project on track?

A: Having worked on and provided oversight on many technology projects in the past, I understand the challenges associated with keeping a project on track. Particularly large IT projects that span multiple administrations. 

Taking a modular approach, we broke the project up into different workstreams, thus reducing the complexity and mitigating risks. For example, the contact center modernization is a separate workstream, and the customer portal is another. We are also upgrading our document management solution, implementing a new ID proofing solution, redesigning our forms, and modernizing our Integrated Claims Management System. All are separate workstreams allowing us to manage them separately and concurrently. This not only reduces the risks significantly, but also allows us to deliver benefits to the public and to our employees more quickly.

Q: How can people keep track of the status of the project?

A: Californians can keep updated on modernization efforts and improvements through our bi-monthly newsletter and the Department’s EDDNext webpage.


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