Workers Comp Zone


The California workers’ compensation system has significant issues. But over the past few years problems at the California Division of Workers’ Compensation have been dwarfed by problems at other Department of Industrial Relations units.

Let’s review some of those problems and consider their impact on California workers.

Cal/OSHA has a leadership and staffing crisis. Despite efforts to fill vacancies, inspector positions and other staffing continue to lag and the agency appears to be drifting.  Cal/OSHA Chief Jeff Killip recently resigned. A coalition of unions and worker advocacy groups joined in a February 2024 letter to Governor Newsom outlining the perilous state of Cal/OSHA:

A January 2024 blog post from former Cal/OSHA staffer Garrett Brown details the extent of Cal/OSHA’s vacancies in many of its offices:

Why should California workers’ comp community stakeholders care? Ensuring safe workplaces is the best way to keep injuries from occurring in the first place. 

Problems at California EDD

During the pandemic EDD paid as much as $20 billion (or more) in fraudulent unemployment claims. Although pandemic aid fraud was not unique to California and the volume of claims by scammers and fraudsters was astounding, the EDD clearly fell way short in managing aid programs and verifying entitled beneficiaries.

One can only imagine the uproar that would occur if there was such fraud and waste in the California workers’ comp system.

In 2022 EDD froze over 300,000 disability insurance claims it deemed suspicious. 

Over the last few years applicant attorneys have heard from injured workers who faced delays getting EDD benefits started.

Why should California workers’ comp stakeholders care? EDD benefits are a safety net for workers whose comp claims are on delay or denied. Severely injured workers who exhaust two years of workers’ comp temporary disability can draw a year of EDD benefits. Having a system that is solvent, stable and efficient is critical to workers.

But wait. There’s more.

California’s Unemployment Insurance Fund continues to have a gargantuan debt to the Federal government.

Dan Walters, writing for CalMatters, details the history of California’s borrowing to keep UI afloat:

EDD’s own January 2024 report on the UI fund notes:

“The Fund ended 2022 with a deficit of $19.1 billion and is expected to continue running a deficit of $20 billion by the end of 2023,
$20.8 billion by the end of 2024, and $21 billion by the end of 2025. While regular UI benefit amounts are declining from the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which increased benefit payments to levels not previously experienced in the UI program, the current financing system cannot self-correct during better economic times due to the significant deficit created. Despite a decrease in the expected unemployment rate, the projected deficit has increased from the May 2023 forecast primarily due to increases in benefits paid and decreases in contributions.”

You can find that EDD report here:

Cal/OSHA staffing problems. Problems rejecting fraudulent claims and paying valid ones. A UI system that is unsustainable as structured.

These are problems that the California workers’ comp community should keep in focus.

Stay tuned.

Julius Young