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 and report the number of claimants it determines are both eligible and ineligible for the self-arranged training and the reasons for these determinations, to better focus some of its recommendations toward how it can assist claimants in understanding the program's criteria.
In December 2013, the EDD implemented a significant change to its eligibility policy for claimants who are attending school or training. Effective December 7, 2013, there is no eligibility issue and UI benefit payments continue uninterrupted when claimants certify that they began training and that they are available for work.
This change in policy significantly reduced the number of California Training Benefits that EDD conducts, which are only necessary when claimants certify they are unavailable for work or not seeking work due to school or training attendance. In addition, eligibility for the training benefits program becomes moot if claimants no longer need to be exempted from availability and seek work requirements.
After the statewide implementation of the streamlined eligibility process in September 2013, EDD now sends detailed information about the training benefits program and eligibility criteria along with a request for training program information when claimants certify they are attending school or training and unavailable for work, and there are no additional non-school eligibility issues present.
Since 2011, EDD has continued to produce and monitor weekly reports that track the number of claimants who were eligible or ineligible for the training benefits program and the statutory reasons for the outcome. The EDD collects extensive data through the streamline process, which is used to continuously improve determination timeliness, identify why claimants fail to qualify for the training benefits program, and better assist claimants in understanding the program's criteria.
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. The EDD has continued to track the number of claimants who were eligible or ineligible for self-arranged training and the statutory reasons for the outcome with weekly reports and has focused on improving eligibility outcomes by identifying the most frequent reasons why claimants were ineligible for training benefits.
The data identified that claimants are frequently ineligible under California Unemployment Insurance Code 1269.1(b), which establishes the claimant's need for training. The EDD identified that staff were determining eligibility based on information that did not effectively reflect current labor market conditions. To assist staff in basing decisions on current conditions, the EDD released a UI Program Notice in May 2013 with specific criteria to assist staff in determining whether claimants need training or have job prospects with existing skills. The EDD continues to evaluate the effectiveness of these procedures by monitoring weekly reports.
Using this data, the EDD also continues to focus on developing the most effective means to communicate program criteria to claimants. As part of the effort to implement SB 1291, Chapter 278, in 2014 that expands eligibility for training benefits, EDD evaluated current web content and identified updates and additions to release with the new eligibility criteria. In addition, the UI program continues to work closely with workforce partners to educate claimants on criteria for self-arranged training eligibility and to assist claimants in seeking programs that have pre-approved eligibility for the program.
Dependent on the extent of its federal underfunding, EDD anticipates completion by the end of 2014.
The EDD believes this recommendation has been fully implemented; however, the EDD anticipates BSA will consider this recommendation to be partially implemented because the EDD has not yet developed the comprehensive recommendations regarding program improvements that will be due to the Legislature in 2016. The EDD acknowledges that it is waiting to collect more data before developing those recommendations, but it has not delayed taking action to provide additional information to claimants about the program criteria based on data collected so far.
In July 2011, the EDD implemented a process to track claimants who are eligible and ineligible for the self-arranged training in the CTB program and the reasons for the determination outcomes. The EDD has posted Fact Sheets, Tip Sheets, and YouTube videos to the EDD website to assist claimants to better understand the requirements of the CTB program. The EDD will continue to analyze this information to identify the primary reasons for disqualifications and will take appropriate steps to market additional information for claimants to assist them in understanding the program's criteria.
Agency responses received after June 2013 are posted verbatim.