News Column

Payment Glitch Impacts Some Unemployed

September 19, 2013

By Jack Katzanek, The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Calif.

The state agency that administers unemployment claims is working its way through a computer problem that led to late benefit payments to some 50,000 people in the state.

The state Employment Development Department has straightened out the problems and, as of Tuesday, has successfully processed about 84 percent of the claims, Patti Roberts, an agency spokesperson, said Wednesday, Sept. 18.

Most of the 50,000 people statewide had waited for their benefits for more than 10 days.

The 50,000 people affected represent about 6.2 percent of the 800,000 people in California currently receiving unemployment payouts.

The problem began several weeks ago when the state began to implement an upgrade to its computer system used to process the claims. Some components of the system were 30 years old, Roberts said.

But the glitch in the new software began red-flagging a significant number of the thousands of claim forms the state receives digitally every day, and because claims continue to arrive all through the month, it became an ongoing problem for the state agency to straighten out.

"We're not happy about this; we're very concerned," Roberts said. "We know that unemployment benefits are a lifeline to a lot of people."

She said department personnel are working around the clock to solve the problems, with some of the delayed claims being processed manually, according to a statement released Tuesday. A small percentage of claims will continue to be processed without the automated equipment, meaning some small delays could continue.

Roberts said the state was not releasing information on how many people are affected in each city or county. Several Inland residents last week said their benefits were late.

In July, the most recent month for which there are data, there were an estimated 1,622,000 people in California officially listed as unemployed, although only about half of them are receiving benefits. About 195,000 of unemployed people, about 12 percent, were Riverside and San Bernardino county residents.

Original headline: State working out unemployment payment glitch

Source: (C) 2013 The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Calif.

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