COVID-19: Months into pandemic, many still struggle to get unemployment benefits from EDD

The California unemployment agency faces a lot of criticism over delays with thousands of claims.
As we enter August, the rent or mortgage is due Saturday, and for thousands of Californians it's still a battle for their unemployment benefits.

"Next month I'm worried about my rent, my car payment. Thank God I only have one credit card," says Cathy Muna.

She says the problem has been her full name on her birth certificate and EDD records. Talking to a live person has been a nightmare.

"All you get is recording, recording, recording, you can't even leave a message. When I looked at it it said I was disqualified no payment and this time I'm panicking," says Muna.

The California unemployment agency faces a lot of criticism over delays with thousands of claims.

EDD says there are 6 million eligible people who have filed claims. About 4.8 million of those have been paid and 1.2 million claims are still waiting. Another 1 million are considered in ending status while EDD tries to resolve issues such as identification or getting additional information. Those are the ones that can take weeks or months.

Labor attorney Angela Reddock-Wright says, "California and other states simply were not prepared for that. They didn't have enough employees, the computer systems were not set up to take in the sheer number of claims that have come in."

Lawmakers in Sacramento held a hearing to question EDD officials about all these problems. They say it's been devastating to people during this crisis.

Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) says, "These are people that are talking about having their last serving of ramen, living in their cars and these are people we live with."

Muna says she is very worried.

"I think we need to go to those food banks and we're going to need to get food that way because we're not going to be able to do it."

EDD blames some of the problems on old technology. Lawmakers say that doesn't work for people who need their benefits now.

Gov. Gavin Newsom launched a strike team to work with EDD to process claims faster but some could still take weeks.

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