EDD: Still Having Issues

By Mary O’KEEFE

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised those who test positive for COVID-19 to isolate for five days. But with the rapid spread of the omicron variant many businesses are shutting down temporarily to give all of their employees a chance to isolate; however, many workers, even those who are not testing positive, are forfeiting a paycheck for a week.

This is difficult for those who are living paycheck to paycheck and especially hard for those working in industries like food services, which were just getting back to some type of normalcy before omicron hit.

In the early days of the pandemic there was a lot of consideration for those who were out of work due to COVID; however, that burst of help has expired. And applying for unemployment is not an option because there is a waiting period of a week before applications for unemployment assistance are accepted by the Employment Development Dept. (EDD).

“In order to apply and receive unemployment insurance benefits, a person must meet all eligibility requirements and serve a one-week unpaid waiting period on their claim before they are paid UI benefits. The waiting period can only be served if they certify for benefits and meet all eligibility requirements for that week. Their first certification of eligibility for benefits will usually include the one-week unpaid waiting period and one week of payment if they meet eligibility requirements for both weeks. They must then certify for benefits every two weeks to continue receiving benefit payments,” stated representatives from the EDD of the State of California.

What all that means is if people are out of work for a week, that week is unpaid. So individuals will not be able to get any support from EDD if they are off work for just one week. No financial assistance is available if they are off again a short time later because someone (or they) tested positive and they have to isolate at home. No help is available if the same situation occurs a month later … and so on.

And as has been reported in the past by CVW, individuals are still having a difficult time getting answers from the EDD to any questions either via telephone or email. Several people CVW has been following as they attempted to get any information from EDD have either given up or have continued to call/email without any receiving any response.

“EDD hired and trained thousands of new agents during this pandemic and has run our Call Center 12 hours per day, seven days per week. Still the volume of repeat calls, including ‘robo calls,’ can overwhelm the system during peak hours,” responded the EDD in an email to questions by CVW.

“UI Online is the fastest way to ask a question about a claim. Customers can log in, then select Contact Us to get started. Customers who don’t have a UI Online account can quickly register for one. If someone has a lingering question about a claim and have not received any notice from EDD or response to a question, we encourage them to check their claim status tracker on their UI Online account. They can also contact us by phone. We are finding that most claimants are able to get through on our UI Call Center line. If they can’t get through on the first try, especially during the busy times between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. each day and around noon, then we encourage them to try again until they do get through,” according to EDD.

EDD also has a self service line for those seeking information about their last payment issued, benefit certification, information on how to file a new UI claim or reopen an existing claim, request copies of 1099G tax information and to find the local location of America’s Job Center of California. That number is (866) 333-4606 and is open 24 hours seven days a week, according to EDD.