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The Employment Development Department's computer desperately needs an upgrade. Officials are blaming unemployment benefit delays of more than a month on an outdated computer system that has left some 117,000 Californians with out much needed checks, according to the LA Times.
President Obama signed legislation on Nov 6 that let thousands of unemployed Californians extend their benefits for an additional 14 weeks. But officials say the state's 30 year-old computer system just wasn't designed to recognize the new extensions and as a result, some of the neediest of the unemployed are left without money.
State Employment Development Department officials say they're working rapidly to reprogram the archaic system as well as postponing staff furloughs to help cope with the backlog, the Times reported.
"We're trying to fully upgrade the system as it's moving at a record pace, while being very careful to not risk shutting down the rest of the system," EDD spokeswoman Loree Levy told the Times. "It's like keeping the plane in the air while trying to fix the engines."
According to the Times:
The logjam is the latest in a slew of delays, phone system overloads and backlogs as the EDD copes with rising unemployment in California, which stood at 12.5% in October.
The agency has come under intense criticism from lawmakers, social service agencies and the unemployed.
"The ones who suffer," said state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), "are the workers who are deserving of their unemployment checks, who are also trying to make ends meet in the middle of winter."
Once the upgrades are complete, EDD hopes to start issuing checks of up to $475 a week. Officials told the Times that may start as early as late next week, just days before Christmas.