I-Team goes in-depth on EDD unemployment payment delay
Hundreds of thousands of Californians continue to wait to get unemployment benefits that they are owed. Valley resident Nicky Faeth was one of them.
"I felt like I was a guinea pig and I went through all of the hurdles in order to just make things happen," Faeth says.
Faeth found out her benefits had been stopped at the end of 2020 when she was in line for groceries and her benefits card was declined. Her difficulties were just beginning.
Most calls to California's Employment Development Department go unanswered. Over a year into the debacle, EDD shows it's answering just a little over 7% of the total calls it receives. On average, unique phone numbers are trying to get through nearly 12 times in a day.
Faeth says she never got through to someone to help her with her issue. Local lawmakers are looking for answers.
"It's been a complete disaster," says 56th District Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia.
"If there's one thing that has unified both the Republicans and the Democrats and the lowly Independent in the legislature, it is this issue," says 42nd District Assemblyman Chad Mayes.
"We have money going to death row inmates but we don't have money going to the people who actually need it," says 28th District Senator Melissa Melendez.
EDD has over 230,000 claims that are past 21 days pending. It's the highest number since February.
The lawmakers are unhappy because they're offices are being turned into field offices of the EDD with people looking for help.
"When they're taking these calls and they are hearing the desperation and people's voices, it's almost overwhelming and all of this because of a failed state government agency," Mayes says.
In Faeth's case, she reached out to Assemblyman Garcia's office. That's how she finally got help, three months and thousands of dollars in overdue payments into her EDD debacle.
So, with agreement that the system is broken, what do the lawmakers think should be done about it?
"Sometimes you just have to put money into things that people don't find very exciting, but it's got to be done," says Melendez.
"This is an issue of efficiencies and effectiveness and also accountability," says Garcia.
"It's like trying to fly a plane when it's on fire," says Mayes.
An EDD spokesperson did respond to our concerns, pointing out that the department does pay 90% of the claims it receives within one week.
The spokesperson also saying, "We understand these statistics about the millions of people who are getting benefits offers little comfort to those who are waiting, and we are doing everything we can to move those cases along."
EDD does ask people to make every attempt to work through their issues on their website.
If you are still having issues, you can call EDD at:
Employment Development Department Call Center
You can also contact your local lawmaker:
42nd District Assemblyman Chad Mayes
56th District Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia