CA woman gets EDD letters awarding, denying benefits in the same day

A Santa Clara woman didn't know which letter to believe when the California EDD sent her two on the same day: one seemly awarding unemployment benefits, and one denying her claim.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- More than 42 million Americans have lost their jobs since the pandemic hit. And right here at home, 6 million Californians have filed jobless claims. Yet, nearly three months after losing their jobs, many are still waiting for benefits.

The state's EDD wasn't ready for this. It's now looking to hire nearly 5,000 workers to help with a backlog. What's not helping? The confusing rules for getting benefits under a pandemic.

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Many jobless Californians were left suddenly jobless and have hit brick walls at the EDD.

Karin Melampy of Santa Clara in Northern California was laid off from her job in April due to the pandemic but heard nothing from the EDD for weeks.

"I'd call, call, call and I was using speed dial day after day after day, for hours on end and still not able to get through," she said.

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Where's my EDD debit card? How can I get through to the call center? We're answering your questions about receiving unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic in California.

And then, it happened. Twice.

"I thought, great, we finally got an answer," Melampy recalled.

Melampy received not one, but two letters the same day from the EDD.

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In February, before the pandemic, unemployment was at a record low in California 3.9%. Gov. Gavin Newsom said California's unemployment could peak at 24.5%. To help, the state is extending benefits.

She opened the first one. Good news! It says "notice of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance award." $167 per week. And that could go up. "Great -- it's a little, but it'll help a little bit," Melampy said.

Then she opened that second letter -- and her joy evaporated.

"It says you do not qualify for federal PUA benefits...So one letter says I'm receiving it, the other letter says I'm not," said Melampy.

Melampy wasn't sure which letter to believe. The one apparently saying she will get benefits, or the one saying she will not.

"I wanted clarification but the thing is, I was unsuccessful in reaching them. I call and call and call and you can't get through," she said. "I'm hoping by speaking to 7 On Your Side you can help me out."

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Economic support has finally arrived in California for the millions of self-employed, freelance and gig economy workers in California, many of whom have lost work or wages in the novel coronavirus pandemic.

KABC's sister station, KGO-TV contacted EDD and it gave them the verdict. Turns out, the bad news prevails. A spokesperson said that the notice of award isn't really an award. It only states what she could get if she were eligible. And that second letter says she's not.

The EDD's Loree Levy acknowledged in an email, "It can be very confusing."

"Well then make it not so confusing!" said Melampy. "It shouldn't be so confusing and so dramatic. It should be crystal clear. You lose your job, you apply for EDD, you should get it."
Melampy filed an appeal and now even more puzzling, the EDD website says she was paid benefits. Twice. However, Melampy has actually not received any money.

WATCH: EDD answers most common questions
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The California agency that processes unemployment claims is answering common questions about the process.

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