FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – The latest fraud scheme to hit the California Employment Development Department (EDD) is impacting thousands of state disability insurance claims.
The EDD promises they are working as quickly as possible to resolve the problem and say this is their top priority.
That promise is now several weeks old.
Those who are disabled and dependent on these checks now have no money coming in and have no idea when payments will resume.
“Here we are with the EDD and it’s like Deja Vu all over again,” Jim Patterson, assemblyman and outspoken critic of the EDD, said.
The EDD has been plagued by fraud in recent years.
It was this time last year more than one million unemployment claims were suspended due to suspected fraud.
Now, it’s disability claims that have come to an unexpected halt.
“Many of those who are communicating with me are at their wits’ end because they are running out of money,” Patterson said.
The EDD says scammers are using stolen credentials of doctors and healthcare providers to submit fake patient claims and cash in.
The EDD flagged and froze 345,000 accounts.
That was more than five weeks ago.
“This big bureaucracy that can’t tell the difference between the honest and corrupt are treating the ones who need it the most and those have been honest – they’ve shut the claims down,” Patterson said.
Those on disability often have no other income options.
The EDD has given no time frame of when payments for legitimate accounts could resume.
After the unemployment accounts were frozen, EDD worked to verify the identity of the claimants.
Now with the disability accounts, they are working to verify the identity of the doctors.
The EDD says they are contacting doctors through email asking them to verify their identities.
But, some doctors have yet to be contacted so the claimants are forced to wait.
The EDD gave us a response when we asked why accounts are still frozen more than a month since discovering the scheme.
“It’s extremely unfortunate that legitimate medical providers have someone posing as them to authorize fraudulent claims and now we have to take extra steps to have providers verify their identity. We suspect a large percentage of the suspended accounts and claims are fraudulent.” – EDD Media Services
For the other percentage of claims that are not fraudulent, there is no time frame on a solution.
“There are deep histories with these individuals, they know who they are, they know where they are, they have looked at them in the past and said ‘yep this looks good, let’s pay’,” Patterson said. “Now, all of a sudden, they don’t trust them anymore? I’ll tell you who we don’t trust anymore, we don’t trust the EDD anymore.”
When communicating with the EDD, we gave them claimant information for some viewers who reached out to us with their accounts frozen.
We even passed along their doctors’ information since they say that’s what they need to verify in order to unfreeze the claims.
But, after repeatedly sending the information for more than a week, the claimant accounts are still frozen.
Are you on disability and your account is still frozen? Email us about your situation.