More than 4.4 million laid off workers nationwide applied for unemployment benefits last week.
Thousands of California residents are turning to the Employment Development Department (EDD) for help, but some workers say the overloaded website is making it difficult for people to file a claim.
From March 14 through April 11, nearly 20,000 people in San Luis Obispo County filed new unemployment claims, according to San Luis Obispo County’s Workforce Development Board.
After hours of filling out an unemployment insurance claim, David Turton, an Orcutt resident, got a message on his computer that read "Error occurred.” He said messages that read "Some customers are experiencing issues using this service" would also pop up.
“As soon as you hit 'save' or 'next', it would crash. It's entirely frustrating,” Turton said. “I understand everyone and their kid brother is trying to do the same thing right now, but obviously it's a problem."
Turton said it took him nearly three days to successfully file his claim.
“I would have to backtrack a little bit and fill out the same form over and over again."
In a statement, the EDD said "Employees are rallying from throughout other EDD programs and state government to help us process this record claim load and get money into the hands of those in need just as quickly as possible. For most Californians, that continues to be about three weeks after applying for benefits.”
However, it’s the application process that is causing headaches for most.
Debbie Self, a Nipomo resident, set her alarm for 2 a.m. one morning to get her and her husband's payments.
“Middle of the night is the time to do things online because you can access the server,” Self said.
On Monday, the EDD launched a secondary phone line so people could call during a 12-hour period, seven days a week, but some said even that's not enough.
“I have called that number hundreds and hundreds of times. I have not once been able to get ahold of anyone there from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” Self said.
Self is one of more than 300 people who has contacted Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham’s office for help in filing UI claims.
Assemblyman Cunningham told KSBY he is in the process of writing a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom to request more money be allocated to EDD resources.
As of Friday morning, the EDD is no longer requiring certification for payments filed between March 14 and May 9.
“They will pay you automatically, so that step of having to access online and get that information to them has been taken away, which I appreciate,” Self said.
Over the last four weeks, the EDD has paid out more than $975 million in unemployment benefits to Californians in need.
For help filing your unemployment insurance claim, you can contact Assemblyman Cunningham's office at (805) 549-3381.