Assembly Approves Lorena Gonzalez Bill Requiring Direct Deposit Option for Unemployment Benefits

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – (Tuesday, June 1, 2021) – Today, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s Assembly Bill 74 to require the Employment Development Department (EDD) to provide a direct deposit option to recipients of Unemployment Insurance, Paid Family Leave, and Disability Insurance benefits was unanimously approved by the Assembly. 

“We’ve worked with so many Californians who, even after EDD approved their claims, were forced to wait longer to access their unemployment funds because they ran into issues with their debit cards,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez (D-San Diego) said. “Providing a direct deposit option is a simple solution that will help streamline the process so families can securely receive their benefits without any unnecessary delays.”

Jude Milton of San Diego was laid off from his job in the food industry at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. Nearly two months after filing a claim with EDD, he says his case had been flagged with issues concerning identity theft, which further delayed him receiving his benefits. 

"I ran into another big issue with the EDD resolving my claim concerning identity theft. Again, I had to reach out for help because months went by before I received any benefits,” Milton said. "Having the opportunity to have direct deposit into my bank account where … it's very clear when the funds are coming in, how much is coming in –– that would be extremely helpful. It would make payments very clear so that way if there's ever an issue … it would streamline everything for both parties."  

As part of Governor Gavin Newsom’s May update to the proposed 2021-2022 state budget, $11 million has been earmarked to help implement AB 74. California currently is one of only two states to not offer a direct deposit option for unemployment benefits.

Currently, the debit cards issued to unemployment benefit recipients are distributed by Bank of America and do not include “chip technology” used to help prevent fraud. The EDD has no direct access to the funds distributed on the cards and has no ability to resolve any issues for individual debit cards. The debit cards issued by Bank of America are also subject to a withdrawal limit of $1,000 a day, in addition to running the risk of being stolen or lost. 

For questions or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Mike Blount: Mike.Blount@asm.ca.gov