New ID Verification tool helping Californians seeking unemployment benefits

EDD ends two-week reset period with gains on backlog

SACRAMENTO – One day after opening their doors to new claims for unemployment benefits again, the Employment Development Department (EDD) on Tuesday announced the successful installation of a new identity verification tool that is helping speed the processing of new claims.

“Already, the new tool has helped serve more than 101,000 Californians seeking unemployment benefits for the first time,” said EDD Director Sharon Hilliard. “We continue to refine this new process and smooth the way for applicants, but we are confident this is a giant step forward in helping Californians verify their identity in a simpler, faster way that is helping us block imposter fraud.”

The EDD initiated a soft launch of the new tool last Thursday, sending emails and texts to a total of 136,000 people who signed up for an EDD notification inviting them back to UI Online to submit their applications for new unemployment claims. Between the soft launch period and Tuesday afternoon, data shows that 101,159 people used the tool in an effort to verify their identity.

More than 64 percent, or 64,950 people, were able to verify their identity online, including 58,915 who needed no assistance. Another 6,035 people did so with the help of a “trusted referee” in a video chat. By the same time Tuesday, 36,209 people did not verify their identity or talk to a trusted referee for reasons that can include abandoning the screen at a point where further action is required, timing out, or not being able to establish their identity. They can return for up to a week to finish the process.

While at least some of these attempts could be fraudulent, it is also possible that some claimants seeking help from’s call center did not get assistance given longer-than-average hold times Monday that reached at one point over an hour, or were otherwise unable to complete the process. Until this first rush through the new reopened system settles out, the EDD recommends the best time to verify identity through for those needing phone assistance is in the morning hours before 10:00 a.m.

“It’s too soon to draw firm conclusions about why those who did not verify their identity were unable to make it through the process, but we will be looking at this data carefully in the weeks ahead to make sure there are no barriers,” Hilliard said. “On balance, we think this tool is already more effective and provides better access to a wide range of Californians than our previous method of verifying identity.”

Hilliard also said the department has made solid progress following a two-week reset period that ended Sunday. That progress includes:

  • Staff were strategically deployed to process both initial claims and pending continued claim payments – resolving about 250,000 claims in the backlog when the EDD initiated the two-week reset period (backlog is defined as the number of claimant’s waiting more than 21 days for a resolution.) The new identity verification tool is expected to help greatly minimize the manual workload that can cause a backlog.
  • The most experienced staff focused on clearing the oldest and most complex claims, while newer staff worked through large volumes of mail, email, and outbound calls to claimants.
  • Outbound calls helped EDD connect with a few thousand claimants, helping resolve an issue causing delays in payments. Most commonly that included walking them through the required process of answering questions on a bi-weekly certification that confirms their eligibility for benefit payments. Payments cannot be issued without it.

The Department worked in partnership with the California Department of Technology and the Office of Digital Innovation to put in place, a commercial identity verification tool that was integrated into UI-Online, the system Californians use to apply for unemployment benefits, including federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). helps applicants prove they are who they say they are in a user-friendly automated process that uses multiple data sources to authenticate identity documents or a virtual in-person session requiring specific knowledge of an individual’s financial history. The old process of verifying identity was a major driver of claims requiring manual processing, and the EDD Strike Team estimated that 40 percent of claims received were being flagged for manual processing.

EDD has implemented and continues to develop further technology enhancements to increase the number of applications that can be handled without staff intervention, with a goal of processing more than 90 percent of claims automatically.

An assessment of the ongoing processing post-implementation of will be conducted in the next two weeks by EDD in partnership with the Strike Team and the percentage of claims still requiring manual processing will be reported at that time.


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Monica Vargas

Monica is an Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). She has been involved in the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, Valley Fire, Butte Fire, historic drought, Oroville Dam Emergency Spillway Incident, 2017 winter storms, North Bay Fires, Camp Fire, Ridgecrest Earthquake and EMAC PIO support to 2020 Puerto Rico earthquake. She previously served Cal OES as an analyst in international affairs, technology operations and executive staff support.

4 thoughts on “New ID Verification tool helping Californians seeking unemployment benefits

  • October 8, 2020 at 12:41 pm

    I been applying sence may 2020 I turned in all I had to do now that can’t do there part to verafy mi Identity ok if thay took a week it’s over a month I get the run around every time I’ll be homless soon doesn’t matter for edd that’s giving me the cold shoulder if I could do a lawer to sue them id do it cause neglagence on there behave why should we pay for somthin tha screwed up on if thay gave prisoners and scammers cheeks why can’t we get what’s belong to us

    • October 26, 2020 at 4:02 am

      I have sent my verification2xmail and fax talk to sup. and rep. I am about to loos my storage and be on the street I lost two sister and.was not able to go to funeral I sent the first verf.19 of sep.2020 sec.i fax first week in oct.2020 was told it was recive.dont understand the problems. Please let me know something ⁸you have told me how much got award letter and account number. Don’t know if I suppose to certified every 2 weeks or what I ask and was told had to wait now am I going to lose all the back payment please tell me some I am 65yr can’t work because of cov19 thisis the reason people that cheated the system got there money and a.person like me will lose everything.

  • October 15, 2020 at 10:37 am

    Is this suppose to be impressive? Wow.. millions of dollars and this is all we have to show for it, a broken 90s system.

  • October 18, 2020 at 2:23 am

    I’ve been waiting for over 4weeks to receive my Benifits. Every sense April of 2020 i have been receiving my payments without any problems. Unfortunately 4 weeks ago I was informed that i wasn’t going to receive my Benifits due to the knew ID verification, i spoke with an unemployment employee who told me she would send a link to my inbox for me to upload my ID, Social Security card to them. I did as she asked. After doing that i phoned unemployment one more time to let them know it had been done. The rep told me it could be 10 days or up to 8weeks before I could get a payment. EDD already still owes me 6-8 weeks of the 300 Dollars paymeny that i was suppose to receive along with my regular weekly payment. I still haven’t received a payment and I’m on my third week of continued weekly Benifits, i need some kind of help or i will be homeless in the streets. I’m 51 years old with sickle cell disease with my illness i cant afford to be in the streets with Covid 19 still killing us off daily i live Oakland Ca, and we are still one of the highest cities in the state that dont have this disease under control. Please Help


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