California Unemployment: EDD blasted by state assembly members for failing to deliver benefits

"Because of EDD's failures, our constituents are depleting their life savings, going into extreme debt, having trouble paying rent and putting food on the table," said Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGO) -- California legislators put the Employment Development Department in the hot seat at a hearing Thursday in Sacramento -- as tens of thousands of unemployed workers still have not received benefits. Assembly members blasted the department for the frustrations laid-off workers who can't get benefits or answers.

RELATED: Lawmakers call for accountability for EDD's 'unacceptable' performance

State assembly members from across the state blasted the EDD saying they are inundated with stories of folks now out of money for food and shelter. For the first time, EDD acknowledged more than one million Californians are still waiting for benefits.

"Many of the people in my district have had no income. No income since March," said Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, at Thursday's hearing.

FAQ WITH EDD: From getting through on the phone to $600 payments, 7 On Your Side gets your questions answered

State assembly members sounded off on EDD for failing to deliver benefits to thousands of jobless Californians.

Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, R-Big Bear, also voiced the anger of his constituents.

"It's the frustration of millions of Californians who have been banging their heads against a bureaucratic wall just to pay their rent, feed their families and keep their finances afloat," said Obernolte.

VIDEO: Unemployed workers share how they got through EDD system to finally receive benefits
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"Just keep trying, keep calling, keep on them." Stories of successfully receiving unemployment benefits are trickling in, and workers share their encouragement and tips for success.

"Because of EDD's failures, our constituents are depleting their life savings, going into extreme debt, having trouble paying rent and putting food on the table," said Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco.

"I'm embarrassed and I hope people at EDD are embarrassed too and that will trigger action," Assm. Tom Lackey continued.

RELATED: EDD complaints still pouring in as $600 benefit ends this week

For the first time, EDD acknowledged today more than one million workers who filed claims still have no benefits.

EDD says six million individuals have filed since March. 4.8 million are getting benefits, and about 160,000 are ineligible. The rest are in a holding pattern.

Thousands say they can't reach anyone at EDD for help. Many turned to 7 On Your Side.

"I probably called a thousand times, and this is not crazy," said Valeris Dean of Livermore.

RELATED: EDD applicants find themselves in 'purgatory' without an approval or denial

"Almost like you don't matter because there's no one to talk to," echoed Deirdre Bloesch of Santa Rosa.

Legislators say desperation is met with automated responses at EDD.

"Right now this desperation is being met by a disinterested bureaucracy who is failing to answer the phones, reply to emails or offer even the most basic help to these Californians. This is heart-wrenching, this is maddening," said Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach.

VIDEO: 7 On Your Side and experts answer EDD, unemployment benefit questions in town hall
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Do you have questions about EDD and your unemployment benefits? 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney and a team of experts are here to help.

EDD says it has implemented more tools and hired thousands of workers to help with the backlog.

The assembly members say they now want weekly reports from EDD stating how many jobless claims resulted in benefits, and how many are still waiting. Some legislators accused the EDD of deliberately keeping Californians in the dark about its performance. They want to know the number of claims, how many are granted, and how many are pending.

Governor Gavin Newsom also announced he's appointing a strike team to target immediate issues and to make it a priority to clear the backlog.

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

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