SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — As businesses begin to reopen, many people are still waiting for the unemployment payments they are owed from the months they have been out of work.

Now a growing number of people tell CBS13 that an Employment Development Department (EDD) date error is keeping them from the back-pay they were promised and they say EDD representatives are refusing to correct those errors.

Self-employed Californians had to wait seven weeks for the EDD to program its computers before they could even apply for unemployment on April 28. Their program is called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and their application process was slightly different than when others applied for Unemployment Insurance (UI).

The governor and labor secretary promised these PUA filers that they would get back-pay for the weeks they had to wait.

“They’ve been lying from the beginning,” said Jessica Stanford, a now unemployed hairstylist. 

CBS13 has received more than a dozen emails from self-employed Californians who say they are only getting payments dating back to late April, around the time they were finally allowed to apply.

Even though they have been out of work for months, and insist they entered the correct “employment interruption date” on their unemployment applications, they say their EDD claims indicate that they’ve only been out of work since April.  

They say EDD reps have been refusing to correct the dates, blaming them for the mistakes, telling people they must have entered the wrong date when they filed for unemployment.

“We’ve talked to probably close to 100 people on different Facebook pages,” Stanford said in a group interview with a half dozen filers. These date errors have become a common topic in the Facebook groups for people struggling with unemployment claims.

 

Despite the growing number of complaints, the EDD told CBS13, “This is not a system issue,” citing “individuals making errors on their application which could impact the start date of the claim.”

But many filers have copies of their actual application with proof that they entered the correct date.

And if, as EDD reps have claimed, the wrong dates are due to a typo, then dozens of applicants entered the exact same typo.

Everyone who contacted CBS13 and was unemployed before March 18, had the same incorrect claim date of April 26. And nearly everyone who said they entered an unemployment date after March 18, all had the same incorrect claim date of April 19.

The filers we spoke with said they stand to lose anywhere between $2,700 and $8,000 due to the date errors.

“We’re hearing hairdressers literally talking about being suicidal over this,” Stanford said. She added that some in the Facebook groups are at risk of losing their homes due to this EDD error.

The EDD told CBS13 they “have always had the ability to backdate a claim.” The agency added, “people can get assistance correcting an error via the phone.”

But the people we spoke with said EDD phone representatives told them that is simply not true for the self-employed PUA filers.

“(A woman) who said she’d worked for the department for eleven years, said unmistakably it would not and could not be backdated,” Leesa Berry said. “And the only way to fix my input error, as she called it, was to cancel the current claim, which takes four to five weeks, return any money that I had been paid to date, and refile a brand new claim which would likely take two to three weeks for approval.”

Several others said they were told the same thing.

“She told me she does adjustments for a living for the UI benefits,” April Demello said about another rep she had spoken with. “And she doesn’t know why she’s not allowed to do adjustments on the PUA Claims, but she can’t.”

“It’s the PUA claims that they say they cannot and will not backdate,” Berry added.

“We’ve already been out of work for seven weeks,” Demello said. “I don’t understand why they can’t just take ownership of the glitch.”

The EDD tells CBS13, “it unfortunately looks like what you describe… could be an inadvertent issue of a representative not properly applying processes and policy to the situation,” adding, “we’re reemphasizing this issue with staff as a reminder of the policy.”

However, the agency did not address the cause of the repeated date errors other than to say, “we apologize if anyone has received confusing or contradictory information via our call centers. We ask claimants to be as careful as possible when applying for UI. Treat this application as you would your tax form or any other legal documentation.”

The EDD added that if people can’t get help on the phone, “they do have a mail option. They can write a correction to the information they provided…on the award notice they receive. They can then send that notice and explanation to the address noted on the notice they received.”

The agency added that people should be careful to send the corrections to “the address on the notice (they receive from EDD), not a different address.” The agency said they have seen mail “being sent to an address other than what appears on the notice which can slow down the processing, or in this case an adjustment.”


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

CBS13 Investigates: Coronavirus Unemployment

Julie Watts

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