Aug 10, 2020
About one million people, or roughly one out of nine Californians who have applied for unemployment benefits since March, have not been getting their checks, and many of them not for months.
There are so many ways claims can get stuck. It’s easy to make a mistake because the forms are complicated and confusing, and require a lot of detailed information. Then there are rules like claimants having to verify their identity again and again—or else the weekly payments stop. If an applicant has made a small mistake filling out a form years ago, for example, the state often uses it as an excuse to deny a new application
The California Employment Development Department (EDD) has only one phone line that deals with glitches, and it’s open only from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., and only on weekdays—for the entire state of California, with a population of 40 million! People who don’t get their checks are forced to spend days on the phone, making literally hundreds of calls before they can reach a person to talk to.
EDD officials admit that current wait time for agents to call back claimants is four to six weeks. It’s a staffing problem caused by years and years of budget cuts, not just in the EDD but in every department of the state government, which has only gotten worse over the last months because of more, bigger budget cuts.