The state's EDD wasn't ready for this. It's now looking to hire nearly 5,000 workers to help with a backlog. What's not helping? The confusing rules for getting benefits under a pandemic.
RELATED: California unemployment questions? EDD expert answers questions on benefits, job opportunities
We told you about James Pacheco of Richmond: "I made no less than 50, 75 calls, two o'clock in the morning, 5 o'clock," he told us.
And Alicia Oreabella of Martinez: "The amount of tears that were shed, and sleepless nights -- we're never gonna get past that," she told us.
Both suddenly jobless, both hitting brick walls at the EDD...like many others.
Karin Melampy of Santa Clara was laid off from her job in April due to the pandemic but heard nothing from the EDD for weeks.
"I'd call, call, call and I was using speed dial day after day after day, for hours on end and still not able to get through," she said.
And then, it happened. Twice.
"I thought, great, we finally got an answer," Melampy recalled.
Melampy received not one, but two letters the same day from the EDD.
RELATED: California extending unemployment benefits: Here's who qualifies and how it works
She opened the first one. Good news! It says "notice of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance award." $167 per week. And that could go up. "Great -- it's a little, but it'll help a little bit," Melampy said.
Then she opened that second letter -- and her joy evaporated.
"It says you do not qualify for federal PUA benefits...So one letter says I'm receiving it, the other letter says I'm not," said Melampy.
Melampy wasn't sure which letter to believe. The one apparently saying she will get benefits, or the one saying she will not.
"I wanted clarification but the thing is, I was unsuccessful in reaching them. I call and call and call and you can't get through," she said. "I'm hoping by speaking to 7 On Your Side you can help me out."
RELATED: California PUA: Self-employed, freelance and gig economy workers can apply for unemployment benefits starting today
We contacted EDD and it gave us the verdict. Turns out, the bad news prevails. A spokesperson said that the notice of award isn't really an award. It only states what she could get if she were eligible. And that second letter says she's not.
The EDD's Loree Levy acknowledged in an email, "It can be very confusing."
"Well then make it not so confusing!" said Melampy. "It shouldn't be so confusing and so dramatic. It should be crystal clear. You lose your job, you apply for EDD, you should get it."
Melampy filed an appeal and now even more puzzling, the EDD website says she was paid benefits. Twice. However, Melampy has actually not received any money. We'll follow up to see if she ever does.
Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
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