To better track and improve the timeliness of determinations for the training benefits program and to assist claimants in understanding self-arranged training requirements, the department should track the number of claimants that it finds to be both ineligible for self-arranged training and ultimately ineligible for unemployment benefits and develop strategies to expedite the determination process for these claimants.
As explained in the response to Recommendation No. 9, the EDD's change to its eligibility policy for school or training attendance in December 2013 addressed the concern that claimants were ultimately ineligible for UI benefits based solely on their school or training attendance. As a result of the policy change, the number of training benefits determinations has been significantly reduced. Most claimants who report school or training attendance and indicate that they remain able and available to work continue to remain eligible for UI benefits and they no longer have their payments delayed due to a determination appointment.
The EDD continues to collect detailed data from the streamlined determination process to ensure that claimants who are unavailable for work due to school or training attendance receive expedited training determinations. The data collected through the streamline process for claimants who are ineligible for both self-arranged training and UI benefits is continuously used to identify areas for improvement for all training benefits determinations.
The policy change, combined with the statewide implementation of the streamlined training benefits eligibility process, allows EDD to complete training benefits determinations on average within 48 hours of receipt of school or training information from the majority of claimants through the streamline determination process.
EDD provided us with a document that reports a significant decrease in determinations related to the California Training Benefits program since EDD changed its eligibility policy for school or training attendance in December 2013. Specifically, EDD reported that overall determinations related to the California Training Benefits program from 2013 to November 2014 decreased by more than half, which significantly mitigates the concerns we raised in our report.
This recommendation has been partially implemented due to chronic federal underfunding in the UI program, which has led to reduced staff, combined with the need to implement the UI Modernization Continued Claims Redesign project as a high priority. To implement this recommendation, the EDD began collecting a random sample of claimants that it found to be both ineligible for self-arranged training and ultimately ineligible for unemployment benefits in late 2012 and on-going. The claims included in the sample were analyzed to determine the reason the claimants are ultimately ineligible for benefits and the findings were documented. The results of the review covering the fourth quarter of 2012 show that the majority of claimants were ultimately ineligible for benefits due to a voluntary separation from employment without good cause under California Unemployment Insurance Code 1256. The results from the first quarter of 2013 are being reviewed. It is taking longer to analyze the results due to a resource contention to implement the UI Modernization Continued Claims Redesign project.
The EDD continues to collect detailed data from the streamlined determination process and has routinely utilized the streamline process to identify areas for improvement for all training benefits determinations. With the statewide release of the streamline process for self-arranged training in September 2013 for claimants in continued claims status, the EDD has ensured that more claimants will receive expedited determinations and that an increasing amount of data is available for claimants who are ineligible for both self-arranged training and unemployment benefits. In addition, the successful implementation of the UI Modernization Continued Claims Redesign project will provide enhanced data collection in the future for all training benefits determinations.
Dependent on the extent of its federal underfunding, EDD anticipates completion by the end of 2014.
This recommendation has not been fully implemented; the EDD anticipates that this status will be confirmed by the BSA follow-up review report expected to be issued in November 2012. This recommendation was based on CTB program data from 2009. In 2009, the average time frame for processing determinations was 23 days. Through EDD's streamline efforts and improvements in overall determinations' timeliness, the average wait time for a CTB determination appointment during 2011 was reduced to an average of 9.4 days.
Claimants are denied UI benefits for many reasons not related to CTB issues such as not being able and available to work, or the reason for their separation from employment. Because the EDD does not know until the determination is complete whether or not claimants will be eligible for UI benefits, there is no way to single out claimants attending school or training for an expedited determination. The EDD continues to focus on improving the timeliness on all determinations so the CTB determinations will also be processed more timely.
Performing an analysis as recommended by the BSA would be extremely labor intensive and costly. However, the EDD agrees with BSA's most recent recommendation to implement an alternative strategy to select a quarterly random sample of claims through the end of 2013 and identify the reasons for claimants being found ineligible for CTB benefits and ultimately ineligible for UI benefits. Using this sample data, any areas that are repetitive and specifically interconnected with the CTB program will be reviewed for potential process or educational improvements.
†Response Type refers to the interval in which the auditee is providing the State Auditor with their status in implementing recommendations made in an audit report. Auditees must submit a response regarding their progress in implementing recommendations from our reports at three intervals from the release of the report: 60 days, six months, and one year or subsequent to one year.
*Agency responses received after June 2013 are posted verbatim.