Eyewitness News has investigated problems for people trying to get information about their disability or unemployment benefits, after getting calls from viewers who say they cannot get through on phone lines or the Employment Development Department website.
Viewers said they've tried repeatedly to reach the EDD. Eyewitness News started looking into the problems, and an EDD spokeswoman let us send her information to relay to appropriate EDD staffers.
Seven viewers quickly got help, and Eyewitness News sent EDD another 70 names of people seeking help.
The EDD spokeswoman said Thursday that they won't accept names anymore from Eyewitness News.
The spokeswoman did send information on why the phone lines are clogged, explaining changes to their website for disability claims She also offered tips on how to reach an EDD worker.
Below is the message sent Thursday from EDD spokeswoman Catalina Martinez:
I know your question didn't specify if you are asking about the Unemployment insurance program or the State Disability Insurance (SDI) program so let me first say that we are experiencing clogged phone lines for two very different reasons in these programs.
Unemployment Insurance program
First of all, unless the U.S. Congress and the President take any further action today or tomorrow, the federal extension of unemployment benefits are expiring with the end of this week. We estimate this immediately impacts 400,000 Californians currently certifying for these federal extension benefits who will see a sudden cut-off of benefit payments, even if someone has a remaining balance on their federal extension claim.
This is triggering a flood of calls to our UI call centers. The EDD understands how difficult a time this is for our clients and we want them to know that we are monitoring the situation closely in Washington D.C. and will be posting any updates on our EDD website, Facebook, and Twitter pages so people don't have to try and call the call centers for this information. Anyone using our other communication channels to get updated information will preserve access to our call center representatives for those who need customized assistance on their UI claims. In the long-term, we are also in the process of replacing our continued claims system and doing a major upgrade to the "EDD Tele-Cert" telephone continued claims. We anticipate implementing these upgrades in the spring/summer of next year.
State Disability Insurance program
Regarding State Disability Insurance (SDI), we have experienced some delays because EDD recently launched the new SDI Online system that allows for the first time in the history of the program the opportunity for customers to file their claims online and for medical providers to provide the necessary supporting paperwork online. During the transition from old claim forms to the new system, temporary delays may be experienced. Some errors can occur when customers are getting used to the new system and staff has to manually input claim information from old claim forms into the new system. We have staff working daily and weekend overtime to keep pace with the workload and work through this transition.
Our customers can help minimize the delays and expedite claim processing by:
- Registering in the new SDI Online system and filing claims and providing necessary medical information online whenever possible.
- Using the new official SDI form created for the new system instead of the old paper forms. These properly completed forms can move through the system more quickly since the older forms require manual impute into the new system for payment.
Again, we apologize for any inconvenience to our customers and we are doing everything possible to quickly resolve these delays. I also have a request. Please encourage your viewers to use our regular channels to contact EDD: Ask EDD and our 800 number: UI: 1-800-300-5616 and DI: 1-800-480-3287. Though I initially offered to help those viewers who contacted you, I am not the appropriate person to forward continued viewer inquiries for response. We respectfully ask that you take down the information from your website that tells people that you will pass on information through me. Today is the last day that I will be forwarding any names and numbers. We offered this service to you out of courtesy to those viewers that initially contacted you. We are glad that we have been able to assist most of the viewers on the list of names you've provided to us, but this is not an appropriate process for the general public. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.