LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Weeks after coronavirus shutdowns began, out of work residents remain desperate to collect unemployment and get through to the state’s Employment Development Department.

“It got to a point where I was calling no joke two to three thousand times a day. Using two phones, even utilizing my children and putting them on one phone and having them hit redial…it was just so exhausting,” said Rachel Raasch who is unemployed.

Faced with a record number of unemployment claims — 2.7 million in California over a four-week period — the EDD expanded its phone service hours from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week and added more than 1,000 employees to its call center.

Raasch was finally able to get someone from EDD on the phone, on their new number that is staffed 12 hours a day, seven days a week, but she did not necessarily get the help she was looking for.

“They have limited information. I’ve had someone say I need to look at my handbook. I’ve had people say I don’t know how to do this, they brought me in from another department,” Raasch said.

EDD admitted that those who answer on their new number are only able to assist with technical help, password resetting, UI Online questions, and general information.

Only the department’s old number, which is only open four hours a day, is able to file claims and payment information.

“What they need to do is expand the hours of the people who actually know how to file claims. Why are they closed at noon, when you have all this going on,” Raasch asked.

Kevin Rafferty, an out of work visual effects supervisor, was struggling to get his unemployment extended 12 weeks under the CARES Act.

As of Monday, he still hadn’t received a check. When he finally got through to EDD, he was told the person on the phone couldn’t help with what he needed.

“This person told me that he can’t help me with that. I have to get a tech support specialist. And to make things worse he couldn’t forward me to him or her,” said Rafferty.

When Pat Polk wasn’t able to get anyone on the phone, she started sending emails.

“I’ve sent four emails, and the only message I got was ‘Your message has been submitted and due to high demand we ask for your patience,'” Polk said.

EDD said it has processed more than 3.5 million claims and distributed $4.5 billion in benefits since March 15.

In a statement, an EDD spokesperson wrote:

“The demand for benefits is far beyond anything we’ve ever seen even in the worst of recessions and we’re drawing on all resources possible to process and provide payments to so many of our neighbors in need.”

Comments (7)
  1. Alisha says:

    I filed for unemployment 7wks ago. 3wks after that they said they needed to verify my identity before approving funds so i sent them more information. Now another 3wks have gone by and still my claim has not been updated. I spoke with someone on the new help line who actually called me back to say he was concerned that no one had looked at my claim to update it from when I spoke to him 2wks prior! What am I supposed to do with that? Another person on that help line told me that they are not answerung the emails that are sent in through the website at all. How does that make sense? You call in cause you need to speak with someone but they can not handle the call volume and disconnect. You go on the website to send an email but those go unanswered cause they can not handle that either. You call the new help line and all they can tell you is to give it time. This system is completely broken and they are not trying to fix it!

  2. Dawn Jarvis says:

    I hear you Alisha! I filed 7 weeks ago today and the same thing happened to me! I sent my W-2’s in over 3 weeks ago and still nothing! I’m beyond frustrated this is ridiculous! I’ve also been sending emails I guess that does no good! Ugh

  3. RyanInLA says:

    This issue with EDD should be the Governor’s top priority. The fact that the county’s most populous state is staffed by phone reps from 8 AM to 12 PM is infuriating. Their automated processes and correspondences could not be any more confusing. Terrible job EDD.

  4. lauraczarnecki@gmail.com says:

    3 days later- constantly calling- can I still cannot get a person on the new help line (833#) of the old (800#). I give up! I filed for unemployment on 3/15/20. I was “disqualified” for the first 2 weeks (I thought it was only one… but, anyways), and then nothing. I have filed questions- one a week for the last 8 weeks (and they promise a response in up to 10 days) and NOTHING. Like they’re going into air… This is now a joke.I hear about others being taken care of- there is nothing”odd” about my situation… this should be routine. Wanna cry! At least, it sounds like, I am not alone…

  5. Charmaine Liccardi says:

    Same here, folks. The governor says he is taking care of Calfiornians. RIGHT. The question is ‘which ones’? Incompetence, thy name is Newsom.

  6. Jason Schilling says:

    Forget about the long response time. There is a technical glitch in the EDD’s antiquated COBOL software that is giving me an error message for a drop down menu. It won’t even show their own drop down menu for a required answer to their question. You can’t refresh the page or anything. If I cannot get any tech help from EDD to over ride their system, I will not be able to even open a claim. This is bordering on criminal the way the EDD system has completely melted down and offers no recourse. They new their system was too old for decades and needed to be completely overhauled with brand new software but all they have done is patchwork the system adding more and more layers of bad coding to an already inept system. Everyone needs to remember this gov’t fiasco come November. Serious change is the only way this will be fixed!!!

  7. James says:

    THIS UNEMPLOYMENT OFFICE IS THE BIGGEST JOKE ON THE PLANET… I CAN’T CALL ANYONE AND I CAN’T LOG INTO MY ACCOUNT BECAUSE THEY HAVE NEVER SENT ME MY STUPID EDD CUSTOMER ACCOUNT NUMBER. I HAVE BEEN WAITING 8 WEEKS!!!!!! WHAT A JOKE!!!!!

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