SCOTTS VALLEY -- Carolyn Dugger, who handles human resources for Digital Dynamics, had good news Friday, two days after contacting the Sentinel about delays in state checks for two employees disabled since October.
One check was in the mail and the other is being processed, she reported.
One employee had open-heart surgery and the other was in a motorcycle accident, yet the claims had been delayed for months.
Neither was able to navigate the new online system installed by the state, so Dugger stepped in to help, writing to the governor the Monday after Thanksgiving. She got a call from a staffer at the Employment Development Department who accessed the information in the state system but still the claims were held up.
Dugger phoned for help, getting a recorded message citing the high call volume or disconnecting after saying the maximum number of callers was reached.
"I have called more than 30 times and have not had any success," Dugger wrote in an email to the Sentinel on Wednesday.
"We're extremely sorry," said Catalina Martinez, spokeswoman for the Employment Development Department.
She told the Sentinel "some errors have occurred" since the state adopted the online system and began the transition in November. It was designed to replace a labor-intensive system that used paper forms.
The state received 64,000 claims in October, 57,000 in November and 49,000 in December, according to Martinez.
In the last fiscal year, the program received 732,812 claims and paid $4.34 billion in benefits, according to the Orange County Register, which wrote about the delays in checks last week.
When the state announced the new online system Oct. 22, officials anticipated it would make it easier for people to file claims and for the state to process them. Sometimes information had to be resubmitted because the forms were not filled out property or were lost in the mail.
During the transition, the state expected some people would file claims on paper that could be processed quickly using a new optical character recognition form.
Martinez said the new system does not recognize the old forms so for claims submitted on old forms, "we have to start all over again."
The Orange County Register reported on the case of a nurse who had surgery in October, then got disability checks in a lump sum Dec. 16, two weeks after returning to work.
EDD spokesman Kevin Callori told the Register EDD employees had been working overtime and weekends to fix problems and speed up payments. He suggested people submit claims using the new online system and email questions to https://askedd.edd.ca.gov/asp/frmEDDCOMM.aspx, allowing a few days for a response.
Follow Sentinel reporter Jondi Gumz on Twitter at Twitter.com/jondigumz