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NewsChannel 3 Investigates

“Rats nest of incompetence,” how one lawmaker describes the failure of California’s unemployment system

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Assemblyman Jim Patterson, (R) Fresno, held an online news conference Thursday morning to call out Governor Gavin Newsom and the state Employment Development Department over the failure of the EDD's new ID.me identification verification system.

The NewsChannel has been investigating problems at the EDD since May and one of the top complaints we receive involves problems with the EDD's ability to verify a claimants identity.

Many people who've filed for unemployment benefits since the pandemic began have been forced to go before a labor judge in Oxnard to prove their identity and even in cases where the judge ruled in the claimants favor, the EDD has refused to pay the benefits. That's money people need to live on especially now during this new stay-at-home order.

In September, the EDD instituted a two-week reset period where it hoped to work through a backlog of claims and put in place new measures to cut down on fraud and streamline the claims process which included the new online ID.me system.

Assemblymember Patterson said Governor Newsom promised the new advanced system would electronically process 90% of California's unemployment claims successfully. However, Patterson told reporters during the press conference that his office is hearing from people who work inside EDD who are frustrated with ID.me. Patterson also said his staff is monitoring social media posts by frustrated Californians who are trying to navigate the broken EDD system to get their unemployment benefits.

Patterson estimates that up to a million Californians could be stuck in a growing backlog of unresolved identity verification claims at the EDD. Patterson described what's going on at the EDD as a "rats nest of incompetence." He said large numbers of people are falling through the cracks. Patterson accused the Governor and the EDD of "hiding things" and said the nature of what's going on right now could be compared to a bureaucratic coverup.

Patterson said EDD's new ID.me system is rejecting people for no reason and when the person tries to call EDD to figure out why and how to correct it, they can't get through to anyone at EDD who can help them.

Patterson also said much of the problem rests with Governor Newsom who refuses to publicly acknowledge the seriousness of the problems at the EDD and take steps to deal with them. He also accuses the EDD of refusing to be truthful about the failures of its 'dinosaur' technology.

The NewsChannel contacted the EDD and Governor Newsom's Office for a comment, but so far we have not received a response.

To read the social media complaints shared with NewsChannel 3-12, click here.

Business Matters / California / Crime / Economy / Money and Business / San Luis Obispo County / Santa Barbara - South County / Santa Maria - Lompoc - North County / Ventura County / Your Money
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C.J. Ward

C.J. Ward is the evening anchor for KEYT NewsChannel 3 and the station’s lead investigative reporter. To learn more about C.J., click here

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