SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — After weeks of complaints about Employment Development Department phone lines, this week the EDD added a new number, new hours, and hundreds of extra employees to help get people the unemployment answers they are desperate for — but has it helped?

CBS13 Investigative Reporter Julie Watts checked in with a few of our viewers who’ve been struggling to get answers for weeks. Their struggles and successes provide some guideposts for those who still can’t get through to representatives.

Many were optimistic when the governor announced increased staffing and hours for EDD phones, but it appears the claim representatives who can actually help fix problems are still only answering phones four hours a day.

Daily EDD Phone Struggles 

Karen is still waiting for her EDD payment five weeks after she was approved. She has made dozens of calls to the EDD but she says the line just disconnects.

Sal has now been waiting six weeks for his EDD payment.  He says he’s waited on hold nearly 30 hours over the past month. “The phone lines don’t work,” Sal said.

Shay and her husband Bobby are both furloughed school district employees. They’ve been struggling to pay their bills for weeks while trying to figure out why Bobby was disqualified from unemployment.

READ: Coronavirus Unemployment: Getting Answers For The Self-Employed

“[I called] 632 times before I gave up that and went to the new call center number,” Shay said. 

After weeks of sending messages to the EDD through its UI OnlineSM “Contact Us” link, Shay and Bobby say they still couldn’t get answers. The responses they received, and shared with CBS13, were confusing, unhelpful and did not address their issues.

They were encouraged by promises of increased EDD phone line staffing, so they decided to dedicate their days to getting ahold of a human on the phone.

“Ultimately, what it really came down to was actually putting in the time, energy and stress to play, hang up and redial,” Shay explained.

ALSO: Coronavirus Unemployment: Are Old EDD Computers Keeping You From Your Money?

The “Hang Up and Redial” Game

The EDD has various call center lines, which can be confusing. On Wednesday, Shay said she and Bobby dialed the EDD’s main customer service 632 times.

That 1-800-300-5616 number that is still only staffed from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. on Monday through Friday.

“Once their call center hours closed at noon, I started calling the new call center a number that the governor just opened up,” Shay said.

The new number, 1-833-978-2511, is now staffed 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.

After calling that number another 100 times, Shay did get ahold of a human, but her success was short-lived.

“They told me we can’t help with claims. We’re only here to help support the UI online,” she said.

It turns out the new number is only for technical help, password resets, UI Online Questions and General Information. The EDD stresses that the new call center representatives “will not have access to your claim or payment information.”

READ: Coronavirus Unemployment: 3 Weeks? Where’s My Money?

The representative did offer to transfer Shay to someone who could help but after another hour on hold, “I was directed to a voicemail that hadn’t been set up,” she said. “When I lost that call yesterday afternoon. It broke me.”

Shay is not alone.

Wide-Spread EDD Phone Frustration 

After a full week of increased staffing, most people who call say they are still hearing the standard message “we are currently receiving more calls than we can answer,” before they are disconnected.

CBS13 has had a steady stream of viewer emails from people struggling with EDD errors, denials and missing payments. They’re turning to CBS13 for answers since they can’t get through to the EDD.

Sal and Karen still haven’t reached a human at the EDD.

Karen did find out, by calling he automated self help line 1-866-333-4606, that the EDD funded her Bank of America debit card account.

But when she called BofA, at 1-866-692-9374,  to find out why she hadn’t received her money, the BofA rep said they didn’t see the money in her account.

But Shay and Bobby offer a glimmer of hope.

The Secret to Success 

“It really is the luck of the draw,” Shay said.

After eight hours of calls on Wednesday, with a crushing blow at the end, Shay and Bobby decided to give it another shot on Thursday.

They kept at it and began tag-team calling the main number at 7:30 a.m. and by 9 a.m.,  somebody finally answered.

“They knew immediately that his disqualification was wrong,” Shay said.

After weeks of struggles, their problems were resolved in minutes. All it took was getting ahold of an elusive live EDD claim representative.

READ: Coronavirus Unemployment: EDD Clarifies Confusing Question — ‘No, You Don’t Have To Lie’

The Take-Away

The bottom line is that the new number with extended hours isn’t for people with claim issues.

In an email late Friday the EDD told CBS13:

“The new secondary call center continues to build capacity daily with all of the redirected staff going through training and joining the line.  This line is a huge help to us and to our claimants because they folks can answer a lot of the most common questions we are getting and can help with the basic technical assistance someone may need in using the UI Online system (password resets, etc.)”

For those who are struggling with EDD errors, denials or wondering why their payment hasn’t arrived after more than five weeks, they still have to call the mainline, 1-800-300-5616, which is still only manned four hours a day from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The hope is that the new number will relieve the load on the old number, so you might actually get through.

EDD’s Full Response:

CBS13 has published EDD’s response, in its entirety, in an effort to provide as many resources as possible for our viewers who are still struggling to get answers.

EDD Response 4/24/20:

  • “Online remains the easiest way to apply.
      • We want people to know we have numerous resources online, including all the things they need to get their claim processed and benefits paid if they are eligible. The streamlining, or changing of eligibility requirements, will allow us to automatically process large volumes of claims through our UI Online system.
      • If you have a question about your Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim, log in to UI OnlineSM and select Contact Us.
  • By Phone
    • The EDD has three different Unemployment Insurance support lines to help you:
      • Option 1: UI Automated Self-Service Line – Open 24/7
        • Call 1-866-333-4606 (English) or 1-866-333-4606 (Spanish)
        • Services offered: Get information on how to file a new claim or reopen an existing claim and your last payment issued. You can also certify for benefits using EDD Tele-Cert, request copies of your 1099G tax information, and find your local America’s Job Center of California.
      • Option 2: General Support Line – Open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week
        • Based on feedback from Call Center Managers, most people’s questions and requests are for technical assistance with our UI Online system (resetting passwords, updating email addresses after we ensure people are who they say they are – to avoid fraud, etc.
        • Call: 1-833-978-2511
        • Services offered:
          • General Unemployment Insurance) program questions
          • technical help including registration
          • password resets
          • EDD Account Number
          • and how to use UI OnlineSM
      • Option 3: UI Claims Support Line –  Open 8 a.m. to 12 noon (Pacific Time), Monday through Friday
        • Call: 1-800-300-5616
        • Staffed by experienced UI representatives who have been trained over many months on the complexity of the UI program and who can actually file a claim for people over the phone.  These representatives answer phones in the mornings (8:00 – noon) and process UI claims in the afternoons.
        • Services offered:
          • File a claim by phone.

We will provide updates on the lines as we have more info on the strategies and tactics we are using to better serve Californians who are counting on us to provide benefits quickly.”

Follow our continuing coverage as CBS13 works to get answers to your Coronavirus Unemployment Questions: 

CBS13 Investigates: Coronavirus Unemployment


Julie Watts

Comments (20)
  1. Katie Lytle says:

    I am so frustrated, I have called 50 + times a day trying to resolve my issue for the last two weeks. It is awful they all get their paychecks, but we can’t receive a life line through this difficult time!

  2. cheryl says:

    Ive called the edd 1800 300 5616 # for three days straight one day I called 275 times but could never get on the speak to a rep line. 200 the 2nd day and 318 the third day. All I need is one question answered as to why I am pending when Ive I received one week of pay then everything just stopped. I also started calling at 754 am and the 1st call said there were to many people on hold for them to help me. Is there a secret

  3. Dan Ordaz says:

    The recording says that it is quicker to use the EDD Inbox and send a message. That doesn’t work either. Though they immediately send an acknowledgment with a case number, there is no response to the question. I sent my first inquiry back on 04/20. It is now 05/16 and still no response.

  4. Van Esek says:

    my daughter is also having difficulty getting her claim started. her family is finally back from a 4 yr deployment because her family was in the service her family has to do everything by fax .service member can not file online. its been 6 wks no no claim update as of yet. She can’t
    seem to reach anyone at edd with such short call hours.

  5. Sara says:

    The 833 number is staffed by new hires that don’t know anything and can’t do anything. Their job is to serve as gatekeepers to the claims reps on the 800 who CAN do something about your claim. The problem is it is impossible to get through to that number so they opened up the new line with expanded hours just to calm people down. The most you will be able to get is being put on a waitlist with a real claims rep who will call you back and resolve your issue. In order to be put on the waitlist however they need to hear from you certain things. That you have been trying to get through for weeks or months and have spoken to just about everyone and no one has been able to help you. They will try to give you phone numbers but none of them will be staffed by anyone who can help except the 800 number which never answers.

    Bottom line, call the 833 number and ask to be put on a waitlist to speak to a claims representative who can move your case along. It’s literally the only solution.

    1. franklridley says:

      The extended service number people say I must talk to someone at main number or that someone will call me back. After using many efforts at main number you finally get on line for a series of phone prompts and asked enter your ss# THEN the auto “NO ONE IS AVAILABLE” message. It really should not lead you all the way into the lengthy tease if NO ONE is available.

  6. Michael says:

    I have called them 100 times a day since March 22nd Monday through Friday. I can not get through. I called the 833 number and been put on call back list and have never received a call back.

    1. LegalGirl says:

      Same here, Michael. I’ve called the 833 number and I have gotten through at least 4-5 times. They promised a call back was coming – even gave me a specific “by” date – and it never happened. I was told I need to speak to a supervisor to resolve an issue – but I can’t get in touch with one. I have 6 weeks certified for payment and NOTHING. I finally sent a written letter via Priority Mail on Saturday.

    2. LegalGirl says:

      This is ridiculous. At this point, I’m wondering if CA took the Federal money and is just not paying people so that they can collect the interest on it? The (833) line is literally staffed with people who can’t get into your account or help at all – they just tell you to email or promise a call back which never, ever comes.

  7. Yo Gi says:

    I am working in CA but I am resident in Rhode Island. My unemployment claim has been denied because My identification copy can not not read. I DONT think EDD DID Correctly. I have called 20x/ day, email and MAil to EDD but there is no response. EDD just wanted to be easy sending my case to Court because of unread identification. I HAVE SENT THEM DIFFERENT COPIES but EDD did not response.

  8. shannon says:

    My claim was approved on April 14th. I still have not received any payment. I call over 200x a day (my phone quits counting after 200 times) and have never been able to get through. I have sent emails with never a response. I have sent letters, with no response. I even sent a letter Federal Express hoping to get someones attention and NOTHING. It is ridiculous. And every interview with the EDD rep avoids the actual problem and just offers up the useless online option or the 8-8 EDD line that offers no help for claim issues. The claim line should be open 8-8 as well, maybe someone would have a chance of getting through.

  9. Tom says:

    I had a continued claim going that I wanted to cancel as I was no longer seeing much of a benefit due to my increased wages at my current, part time job. I have had the nightmare experience in the past trying to contact them by phone and it states on their web site that the best way to cancel a claim is to contact them through ui online, so I did… back on March 24, 2020 (83 calendar days ago). I then forgot about it…. THINKING it had been taken care of. Boy, was I wrong. On April 27, 2020, I got an email stating that I had a new message waiting for me through ui online. Gee… I had forgotten all about that and I thought, WOW, it took them that long to get back to me about the cancellation. Nope… they took it upon themselves over those 4 weeks to file claims for me on my befalf automatically and pay me. Over 2 days, I received 3 notifications that they deposited not only my maximum weekly benefit, but also some of that pandemic pay as well. They proceeded to file claims and pay me up until the week ending May 2, 2020. I was not even going to try and bother to call in, in hopes of just being placed on hold. I’ve better things to do like work. That and the call center hours are open only for 4 hours each day. Truly sad. I am contacting them one last time today in hopes of receiving an answer, though I am positive I know I will not. When the year gets close to the end, I will be forced to pick up the bloody phone and call them as I do not want to pay taxes on any of that money as I don’t believe I should have it. Not my fault that they cannot do their job correctly, busy or not. Perhaps I will actually be able to get through around October or November through the phone.

  10. Mel says:

    I’m still waiting here for unemployment to pay me and I filed on 3/8/2020. So it’s been over 3 months with zero money coming in. EDD finally responded in June to an email I sent in March and stated they needed to recalculate my wages and it would be another 45 days for them to do this! So basically they’re telling me I have to wait over 4 1/2 months just to see any money. This is not acceptable! I paid into this and so did everyone else who’s been given the runaround for stupid reasons. In the meantime, I’m about to be forced to live in my vehicle because I’ve used up almost all my savings surviving for the past 3+ months while waiting on EDD to pay me. State of CA is one giant FAIL on so many levels.

  11. Maggie Shea says:

    It is June 22. All numbers just give a recording and then disconnect the call.
    All of this PREVENTS THE REAL NUMBERS OF UNEMPLOYMENT. Who is going to help? I live alone, am older (63), my business is shut. I need real assistance.

  12. it’s 6-24-2020 and the system STILL… DOES NOT WORK! I have YET to speak to a human being about my claim, currently in perpetual “pending” mode. I begin calling the customer service line BEFORE 8:00 am and receive a message saying:

    “we are experiencing high call volume and are unable to assist you at this time, but your call is important to us…”

    Really? If my call were so important to you, then your department would have enough people working enough hours to answer it! My claim began on May 8, and I have yet to receive $1.

  13. Alaina says:

    6/25/2020 I filed my claim a month ago and just last week I finally received a confirmation letter with a customer account number. Long story short when I tried to update my account with the account number they gave me I continuously receive a “incorrect information has been entered…HOW?! So I try to call that new number EDD has for filers for support, I can’t get a hold of no one on that line, all I get is messages saying the representatives can’t take my call. I’ve called that number at different hours of that day everyday and yet STILL I GET THE SAME FRUSTRATING MESSAGE. All I need is for someone to help, there is no one and that is sad.

  14. Luanne R. Mohatt says:

    Filed March 22, 2020 and STILL HAVE YET TO TALK to a person with a pulse, process anything online, get any phone assistance. My claim is approved but I was initially disqualified due to the answers to traditional UI questions–look for work-NO, COVID19. The online program is a total waste. You CANNOT DO ANYTHING with this archaic, outdated service poor system. What can be done?? I have had NO MONEY since March! It is now July10!!!!!!!

  15. Mitch says:

    beyond frustrated….filed in early april….now its mid july….cannot get a hold of anyone live…..

  16. Jewels Solheim says:

    It would be nice if you allowed us to read this article on Safari without all the TV screens. I have the screen on the part of the article I am reading and then after 30 seconds it jumps to the end of the article. over and over. just like the EDD call line.

  17. Tanza Francisco says:

    I filed late and they approved current moving forward but haven’t given me weeks to certify back to March when it started and I can’t get someone on the phone. I have sent them 5 emails via the UI online and have yet to receive a response. Hoped that I would get one after their ‘2 wks shut down to catch up’ but no such luck. It is so frustrating and discouraging. It is hard to redial and redial just to be hung up on after listening to long spiel of messages.

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