The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

Delayed unemployment checks to resume starting Thursday

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State officials said they would expedite payments to tens of thousands of Californians who are still waiting to receive their unemployment benefits following a computer problem with the state’s updated payment processing system.

People who are waiting for their unemployment benefits will receive payment as early as Thursday, said Loree Levy, spokeswoman with the state’s Employment Development Department.

The department said it would temporarily waive its eligibility screening to address the backlog of claims and recover any overpayments later.

On Tuesday, Marty Morgenstern, secretary of the state’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency, directed the Employment Development Department to pay backlogged unemployment claims before “a final determination of eligibility.”

He said in a letter to the department that even though it has taken actions to reduce the claims through actions like increasing staff overtime, “it is unlikely that the claims backlog will be reduced quickly enough to respond to the real financial hardship now being experienced by too many of our residents relying on timely payment of their [unemployment insurance] benefits.”

The news will offer some relief to unemployed workers — such as 50-year-old Maria Casas – who are worried about paying their bills.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” Casas said of the computer glitch.

Casas lost her job as a sales coordinator in 2012, and she’s been looking for work but hasn’t had any luck. She used to earn $45,000 a year, but now relies on $738 in unemployment benefits every two weeks. It’s crucial to paying her mortgage, Casas told KPCC.


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