Californians who believe their unemployment benefit claims have been wrongly denied are facing significant delays in having their appeals addressed during the COVID-19 pandemic, waiting an average of 92 days for assistance — more than double the wait time before the pandemic put millions of residents out of work.
The sluggish appeals process marks another setback for the the state after its beleaguered Employment Development Department was overwhelmed by a record-setting 20 million filings since the pandemic began, leading to state audits that showed poor planning by the agency slowed the approval of millions of claims and made it vulnerable to widespread fraud.
When claims are denied or disqualified, people can file an appeal with the EDD, which reviews the arguments before sending cases they deny to the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board for a final decision. The board is independent from the EDD, although both offices operate under theumbrella of the state Labor and Workforce Development Agency.
Appellants argue their case to an administrative law judge employed by the appeals board, and that judge’s decision can be appealed a second time to the five-member board appointed by the governor and the California Legislature.
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