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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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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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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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