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Paso Robles man waiting for backlog of unemployment benefits after weekly $600 federal payments stop

Posted at 6:53 PM, Aug 06, 2020

A $600 weekly unemployment check, a lifeline for many laid-off workers, is now gone.

On top of regular unemployment benefits, millions of Americans who lost jobs during the pandemic were getting $600 weekly beginning March 29, but as of July 25, the payment stopped and many are still struggling to make ends meet.

"The stress is definitely high. I do have a family, I have three children" said Joel Quiros, who is still waiting for unemployment benefits. "It's been tight on money."

Paso Robles resident Joel Quiros lost his job with the onset of the pandemic.

He says his unemployment benefits didn't kick in until two months after filing for unemployment with the EDD due to a delay from his employer.

Then on May 31st, payments stopped altogether and he hasn't seen a penny since.

"The EDD, they owe me extra money weekly because they underpaid me, so they had to go back since March 8 and add everything up until the present and then pay me all that," Quiros said.

He says he's still waiting for about $10,000.

"It's impossible, I can never get a hold of a specialist," Quiros said.

About 3,000 Central Coast residents have turned to Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham's office for help since mid-March.

He says, "EDD was a mess before the pandemic and now it is just completely overwhelmed and needs a complete overhaul."

For Atascadero mom of three, Danielle Koehler, unemployment benefits were a saving grace after she lost her job.

She describes her EDD experience as "amazing."

"Never had a problem with it," she said. "Some people are having a really difficult time with the process and I haven't had any of those issues. From day one, I've gotten paid within eight hours of certifying."

For her, the problem is finding a safe job.

"When you have a new baby and 90-year-old in the house, it's not that easy to go out and get another job," Koehler said. "You are now putting yourself, your family at risk of catching the coronavirus."

With the end of the federal payout comes a sliver of economic recovery.

According to the EDD, San Luis Obispo County’s unemployment rate, which was at an all-time high of 14% in April, dropped down to 11.5% in June.

Santa Barbara County saw a similar trend, peaking at 13.9% in April and dropping to 11.6% in June.

Quiros is now staying busy with a new job and a positive attitude.

"I know it's very difficult right now with COVID-19 and everything, but try to keep your head up," he said.

Assemblyman Cunningham said he believes Congress is negotiating a possible extension of additional weekly benefits that were authorized by the CARES Act, but no decision has been made just yet.