FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – State disability claims are still going unpaid after months of being frozen.

The Employment Development Department suspected fraud and froze hundreds of thousands of accounts. More than 200 people have reached out to us claiming they have not been receiving disability checks since the new year, each with a name and face.

Creighton Chapman is a throat cancer survivor and he is just one of many.

“I had to go on disability after getting 30 rounds of radiation treatment for my cancer,” Chapman said.

Chapman has been on disability since an important medical procedure. His doctors have ordered him not to work.

“They performed a total laryngectomy to try and rid me of my cancer,” Chapman said.

Chapman was receiving disability checks for four months when payments stopped.

“We didn’t get a notice by anybody,” Chapman said. “Nobody ever said you might have your account froze.”

Weeks went by and then months, and despite hundreds of phone calls to the EDD, there was still no payment coming in.

“They owe me over $7,000 dollars,” Chapman said.

Bills quickly began to pile up.

“Electricity and groceries and car payments and insurance,” Chapman listed a few.

Now in a financial bind, Chapman skipped a month’s worth of heart medication and several speech therapy classes.

“The disability portion of EDD is about people who are really sick and for those people to be turned away is tragic.”

Chapman is far from the only one affected. Hundreds of impacted people emailed us.

Angelo had spine surgery and tells us, “The stress has caused my healing process to slow down dramatically.”

Tabatha said, “I am afraid I might not be able to afford formula and diapers for my two-month-old son.”

Erica is a single mother and says her bank account “went negative, bills late, fees piling up, rent past due.”

Teresa broke her leg, is on disability and has had no payments since November. She is now losing her home.

We have emailed the EDD 18 times in two months with questions. Our requests for interviews have been ignored.

The EDD gave us this statement when we told them that our story would be airing.

EDD’s top priority continues to be validating any legitimate claimants who were caught up in the scheme of ID thieves and clearing their claim for payment.

Our staff are working continuously to mitigate the undue stress being imposed on numerous disability and unemployment benefit claimants created by online scammers, who aggressively pursue personal identifying information for use in all sorts of criminal endeavors, including filing fraudulent benefit claims. We have redirected staff throughout the department and have staff working overtime to verify claimants and weed out fraudsters

Near the end of last year, EDD suspended account activity for approximately 27,000 suspicious medical provider registrants and 345,000 claims associated with those providers or other suspicious activity. While our processes have helped us confirm that the majority of these providers and claims were fraud attempts, the Department has partnered with state regulators and medical provider organizations to coordinate the verification process to clear any legitimate claims as quickly as possible. Every claimant was sent a notice specific to how they can help EDD verify their identity and EDD is also directly connecting with medical providers as well as sending some of them through ID.me for assistance.

Since working with Chapman, his claim has pushed through and he’s now been paid.

The EDD has now experienced two huge fraud investigations, freezing hundreds of thousands of unemployment claims and now disability claims.

We will continue to request an interview with the EDD director in search of more transparency.