California EDD reopening applications to unemployed workers who previously exhausted benefits

RICHMOND, Calif. (KGO) -- Unemployment claims have soared to 36 million nationwide but there may be millions more who have been blocked from getting benefits -- thousands in California -- even though they're eligible.

The federal CARES Act was designed so nearly everyone who has lost a job or work can apply for benefits. That includes millions who normally are "not" eligible, so the EDD at first was kicking out their claims. Those locked out have been left to struggle.

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Coronavirus cases started to flatten this month, businesses started to reopen, but California's jobless rate? It kept climbing.

"Some 4.6 million of you have filed for unemployment claims just since March 12. We are at a time that's simply unprecedented," said Governor Gavin Newsom.

And yet possibly thousands more Californians are still waiting to file claims.

"I can't even file. it's not a matter of being approved or denied. I can't file, period." James Pacheco of Richmond was laid off two months ago but he has let to receive a penny. The EDD website keeps shutting him out.

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"I made no less than 50, 75 phone calls at two o'clock in the morning, five o'clock in the morning, three in the afternoon -- didn't make any difference. And going online, it was click here, click there, never finding a form," he said.

Turns out he'd exhausted unemployment benefits last year. Normally he'd have to wait a year to be eligible again. But the CARES Act did away with those time limits, extending benefits to everyone.

It's just that the EDD website has yet to catch up.

We heard from many of you who were also locked out.

Samira K. emails: "I am not qualified for EDD because I used it up... where do I go?"

Staci M. writes: "my unemployment runs out in two weeks. Will they be extending people so we can live?"

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Yes, they will. Starting Wednesday, the EDD will begin extending benefits to those who have used up benefits in the past year.

Notices will go out to those who filed claims after June 1 of last year.

The notices will explain how to file claims if you are currently unemployed.

For James, it can't be soon enough.

"All I can do is keep my head up and push forward," he tells us.

The EDD says it will automatically generate those notices and mail them within seven days. If you still have trouble let 7 On Your Side know about it.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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