california unemployment

State Lawmaker From Oakland Pushes Reform Bill for Unemployment Appeals

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A state lawmaker from Oakland is proposing new legislation to help close a loop in the Employment Development Department's processing of appeals on denied unemployment claims.

The EDD not only has been slow to approve benefits claims, it also is not meeting the U.S. Department of Labor standard for processing appeals for people who have been denied benefits, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.

The federal standard says 80% of appeals should be acted on within 45 days and 60% within 30 days. From April through January, California completed action on 53% of claims within 30 days, the Times reported.

State Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) wants to create a streamlined process for people to get help.

"My bill (AB 402) would establish the office of claimant advocate," Wicks said. "The whole aim of bill is to create a recourse for so many desperate constituents and so many folks in our communities."

In addition to creating the advocate office, other proposed bills would allow for direct deposit; not punish minor mistakes by filers; mandate ongoing oversight; and prevent fraud before it happens.

The EDD has processed five times more claims than it did in the year following the recession. Its system was vulnerable to widespread fraud in 2020, when it processed millions of dollars in bogus unemployment claims, victimizing the very people who needed help.

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