LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Fraudsters are once again targeting EDD but this time, they're going after disability claims.
The department is now being accused of moving too slowly while it weeds out the bad claims so it can pay those who have legitimate ones.
Months without pay is taking a toll on many Californians who are on disability.
"Today is 56 days since I have been paid," said one disability recipient. "Fortunately I had a little nest egg but it's getting down to the end. I am down to pennies."
Mariah Ma'ae is a disability recipient and a single mom. She hasn't been cleared to go back to work, but her disability payments stopped suddenly in mid-December.
"It's just really hard not having any income and not being able to work. So it's like a catch 22," she said.
Ma'ae said she has not received any correspondence from EDD as to why her account is now frozen.
"I have emailed them, I have submitted claim update forms, I have called them at all times of the day and I can never get through."
Weeks ago, EDD announced that it had flagged 345,000 disability claims for suspected fraud. In a news release, the EDD said its "top priority" was to clear any legitimate claims as quickly as possible.
California State Assemblyman Jim Patterson says his Bakersfield office has been flooded with calls from people who suddenly stopped getting their disability.
"I think the basic problem is that EDD cannot tell the difference between a legitimate claimant and the fraudster," Patterson said. "These are individuals who have had claims with disability going back weeks, maybe months. They have been established. These people are known to the EDD."
Patterson says EDD has told his office that the doctors connected to frozen accounts have been sent emails to verify their identities. But Patterson says that's rarely happening.
When one woman who spoke to CBSLA's Kristine Lazar said when she called her doctor, his office said they've heard nothing from EDD. And now she can't get EDD on the phone.
"At one point I counted the attempts, and it was 84 times," she said.
All these two women can do now, is wait.
"How am I supposed to take care of my son? I don't know," Ma'ae said.
In a statement to CBSLA, EDD says it is making daily progress on the remaining suspended claims but it does believe that most of those that remain are fraudulent.
Lazar did send over the cases of the two women she interviewed to see if we can get them resolved.
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