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'Absolutely Stunning': Lawmakers React To Goldstein Investigation Into Minors Collecting EDD Benefits

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Lawmakers want answers after a recent David Goldstein investigation found that children as young as 1-year-old were collecting unemployment benefits.

EDD Building
An investigation by CBS Los Angeles' David Goldstein found nearly a dozen questionable unemployment claims for minors receiving unemployment funds as unemployed actors or fashion models. (CBSLA)

"That is absolutely stunning," Assemblymember Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, said about the investigation.

According to records obtained by CBS Los Angeles, unemployment claims have been filed on behalf of minors claiming they were out of work actors and fashion models despite the children not being registered to work in the state — including a 1-year-old from Fresno who was getting $167 per week in taxpayer-funded unemployment benefits.

"There's no reason why the governor cannot right now using his executive authority pick up the telephone and say to those involved at the EDD, 'Get your act together, or else,'" Patterson said.

Sources told CBS Los Angeles that the EDD was in the process of making changes to how it processes some claims.

Beginning this week, the EDD will be verifying the income of people who are self-employed, using state databases — something that hasn't been done in the past. If their income cannot be verified, claimants will have 21 days to provide proof before their benefits are cut off.

"They need to back it up," State Senator Brian Jones, R-San Diego, said. "They should have been doing that from the beginning."

Jones said he believes the change will cut down on potential fraud.

"EDD should be catching up with that verification and getting as many of those things verified as soon as possible," he said.

The verification process would be that everyone — even a 1-year-old child — would have to provide documentation of income prior to the pandemic.

"I think even 1-year-olds, if they have a source of income, have to file a Schedule C if they're a 1099 independent contractor," Jones said.

According to sources familiar with the situation, EDD will first ask those receiving above the minimum benefits to provide proof of income — though the verification process is expected to be expanded in the future.

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