The state’s Employment Development Department has extended the number of days applicants have to verify their identity before the agency disqualifies their claim.
Applicants will now have 30 days instead of 10 to complete the verification; the countdown starts on the day they receive verification guidance from EDD, which should arrive through an emailed link or the U.S. mail. All those receiving emailed links were supposed to have received them by Jan. 14.
The EDD froze the accounts of about 1.4 million Californians at the end of last year in an attempt to prevent fraud. These applicants are now all trying to verify their identities through the state’s ID.me verification system.
EDD delivered the verification guidance on a rolling basis to avoid crashing its online systems. But ID.me was already overloaded at the end of last year, and claimants have been waiting for hours to verify their identities through video when their documents weren’t approved through other avenues.
The department implemented ID.me in an attempt to cut down on the manual processing times that were contributing to the huge backlog. But in early January, advocates had resorted to filing hardcopy forms, said Daniela Urban, founder of the Center for Workers’ Rights in Sacramento.
“We have them fill out a paper form or assist them in filling out a paper form and submit that instead, so that we don't have to deal with ID.me,” she said.
Last year EDD had pledged to lawmakers to clear a backlog of more than 1.6 million claims identified in the fall. While the agency says it is on track to accomplish that goal by around the end of January, that doesn’t include the 1.4 million suspended accounts. Taking the remainder of the 1.6 million and adding that to the other currently unresolved claims, the agency still has more than 940,000 claims it has yet to process.
On top of the long wait times for verification, many applicants have received confusing messages directing them to unnecessarily reopen their claims. Claimants who receive this message should wait until EDD prompts them to certify. The agency has said it expects to complete these claims in question by Friday.
Advocates say the glitch is a result of all the pending changes to accounts coming in the wake of the December stimulus bill passing.