SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — We’re 18 weeks into the pandemic and some who are still waiting for their unemployment from the first round of closures now have to re-open their claims as their industries close again.

Should they re-apply for unemployment or reopen an existing claim? And how long will it take?

The short answer is, your claim is good for one year, so you’re supposed to re-open your claim, not file a new one. But like many things at the Employment Development Department (EDD), we’ve learned it’s not always that simple.

In May, Leesa Berry was getting ready to return to work, but like millions, she still had not received her unemployment benefits.

“Hire me and train me so that I can correct these claims and then you don’t have to pay me unemployment,” she said in a previous interview with CBS13 and half a dozen others who were dealing with EDD date errors. 

Now months later, Leesa said it took about six weeks to get her funds the first time around. But that was after the hairdresser had to wait for the EDD its program computers so that self-employed Californians could even apply for benefits.

“So that would be 10 weeks from when I had to close down the first time,” she said.

Even then, she didn’t get all of her money because, like many, the EDD failed to back-date her claim to when she actually had to shut down.

“You kind of feel like you’re losing your mind,” she said.

And then, just as she finally got it all cleared up, the governor announced hair salons in Placer county must close again.

“[I] was in disbelief and I just thought to myself, OK, here we go again,” Leesa said.

Leesa is one of the millions of Californians who will now have to re-open their unemployment claims. EDD says claims are good for one year before you have to file a new one and they’ve posted this video tutorial to help walk people through the processes, but, once again, she’s found it’s not that simple.

“I was told even when I went back to work to continue to certify,” she said. “I actually had this happen.”

The EDD says people who never stopped certifying — reporting their earnings every two weeks — should just continue continuing certifying and note 0 income, but now Leesa says there’s a flag on her account.

“I’m on a callback list because they recognize that something’s wrong,” she said.

But there’s no telling how long it’ll take to fix this time.

“I’ve been on a callback list for five weeks now,” Leesa said. “Nobody ever calls back ever.”

The EDD’s top two frequently asked questions of the week are about reopening claims. They say, in most cases, they can automatically re-open claims within a few days to a week.

Julie Watts

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