SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — After seven weeks of waiting just to apply for unemployment, many self-employed Californians were optimistic they’d get their money within 48 hours of applying, as promised. But it turns out, that didn’t exactly happen.
“I expect to get the money within 48 hours,” Danielle said.
“I expected the same thing,” Nicole added. “[I’m] on day six and still nothing.”
For weeks, the state’s been promising once self-employed and independent contractors finally got to apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, they wouldn’t have to wait to get paid.
Governor Gavin Newsom told Californians it would be a 24 to 48-hour turnaround. But a week after applying, for many it’s still hypothetical money.
“It’s not really in our bank accounts.,” Darcy said.
Even though many of their accounts said they were paid within 48 hours, they didn’t realize they’d have to wait another seven to 10 days for their EDD debit cards to arrive.
“We can’t do anything without that card,” Nicole said.
And once the card arrives, they still won’t have access to all of their money. It took seven weeks of programming to even allow the self-employed to apply for unemployment under the CARES act.
And still, EDD is only able to pay out a flat rate to each person, $167 per week, plus the $600 from the federal government. Many of the self-employed are entitled to the full $450 per week, plus $600 in federal payments.
But EDD says that will require even more programming, so for now, the waiting game continues.
“I think seven weeks is unacceptable,” Danielle said.
The EDD has not provided a timeframe for when it expects to finish programming, so it’s not clear when these folks will get the full benefits. In an email, the EDD told CBS13, “Our goal was to provide access to this new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefit program just as quickly as possible which is why we are phasing in the payments.”
As we spoke to Danielle Wednesday, a glimmer of hope arrived in the mail.
“I literally just got the mail,” she said.
Her debit card arrived, but after weeks of waiting and disappointments, she’s still a little skeptical.
“If there’s money on it, I’ll be pleasantly surprised. We’ll see,” Danielle said.
For weeks we’ve been asking EDD how many people have been approved for unemployment, how many were denied, and how many have been actually paid? The EDD said it doesn’t track that information, but now we’ve learned that may have changed. Later this week the state will be releasing new data that may finally provide answers and clarity.
Another concern is that the Labor Secretary said that people applying for PUA would not have to certify their benefits after they applied. That’s an extra step where applicants usually have to go back and confirm their still out of work.
However, several people who applied for PUA tell CBS13 that they were not paid until they certified.
“Julie Sue said specifically over and over and over, ‘You do not need to certify for your benefits. You do not need to certify for your benefits.’ A lot of us had to certify for the benefits in order to get paid. Danielle said.
Danielle runs a Facebook group for unemployed hairstylists. Many say they had similar experiences.
“And had we listened to (Su’s) instructions, I don’t know what would have happened,” she said.
The EDD insists that there is “no need to certify between now and the week ending May 9 for eligible weeks spent unemployed. “
Last week, the EDD did eliminate its certification requirement for regular unemployment filers. The EDD website now says it will automatically continue to make payments without certification until the week of May 9.