The Insanity of Unemployment in CA

Are you part of the 10% (plus all the rest of the people which are no longer counted as ‘newly unemployed’) in CA struggling to obtain benefits? This blog is for you!

In January 2009 I found out I was being relieved from having to work for pay, in as much as the company which I had been working for, which had recently incorporated in November 2008 and obtained a chunk of vc (and offered me a new contract Dec 20, 2008), realized it would be more profitable to have a recent college undergrad (with no education background but a great type A personality) do my job.  The ed tech start up/web site I was working on aimed to benefit American Students by assisting them in gaining ground with math.  The month before I was let go, the programmer gave notice as he could not negotiate a reasonable pay rate – he was replaced by three people (two in India and one locally) and somehow  three people became more profitable than one since two of them did not require money for healthcare, etc. 

If you are starting to feel as though this is a chapter from David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, it is only due to the fact you have not heard the rest – you will soon realize this blog is a  non-fiction riff on the aforementioned book.

On Friday 23 January, I filed on line for unemployment.  On Tuesday 27 January, I received the tax forms from EDD for 2008 (see earlier blog in which I detail cobbling three part time jobs together and still needing to collect unemployment).  On Friday 30 January, I recieved the letter from EDD stating I was not recognized in the system and could I provide the following: copy of CDL or passport, recent W-2 and pay stub with last 4 digits of ss number and name/address of employer, copy of annual SS report about my future SS benefits….etc. I can not even begin to describe the list.  I immediately found everything, copied it, walke to post office and made sure it was in the mail by 5:00 PM so it would be at EDD by Monday.

Over the weekend I panic – I realize EDD was asking for a ton of confidential information after they just sent me tax forms. I e-mailed EDD on 2/2/09 (e-mail number 5342593)   to ask if I was a victim of fraud or if they really sent out paperwork for me to re-identify myself. On 2/5/09, having still not heard from EDD, I e-mailed again about the fraud issue (e-mail number 554855).  On 2/6/09, I received a response for 2/2/09 (#542593) stating, yes, I needed to re-identify myself.

By 2/10/09,  the only paperwork I now had indicated I had nothing in my unemployment account.  I sent e-mail # 570454 to ask if they received paperwork and the zero was based on me re-identifying myself.  I sent e-mail # 574823 on 2/11 and e-mail #578540 on 2/12/09 as I had still never received a response except from 2/2/09 and the notification of zero in unemployment account.

By 2/17/09, I sent e-mil # 587250, again asking if EDD could give me some information.  I also contacted my local representative, Pete Stark and Governor Schwarzenegger by e-mail at their respective web sites, asking for assitance in navigating EDD. 

As of 2/19/09,  I now knew I was approved to receive unemployment benefits, however, no one sent me the forms to fill out, although EDD noted to me I had not submitted these forms..  On 2/19/09 I sent e-mail # 595094 asking for the forms I needed to fill out as there was no way to download them from EDD site.  I sent e-mail #622658 on 2/26/09 asking for update.  I received the forms two days later. I filled out the forms and submitted the forms that day into the mail.

On 2/27/09, no e-mail response, no checks, no nothing. I sent e-mail # 626363 asking when I might even anticipate a check.   I received various information from EDD in the mail – the week of 2/24/09 was being considered my waiting week and so I would not receive a check.  I sent e-mail # 627517 on 2/28/09 clarifying that the week of waiting should be 1/25/09-1/30/09 as I originally filed on 1/23/09.

Later I receive more paperwork – I did not fill out the claim forms correctly (I did work that week, I had not received the payment for said work – in fact it was three weeks before I received the money for that week).  I checked my copy of what I filled out – it was accurate. I have the documentation to support everything I stated on the form.  I refilled out the form and told EDD that if they were questioning the information, I would be pleased to lie if they simply requested that is what I need to do to get a check.   I am unclear why the EDD office did not e-mail or call me to ask about information – it would have been cheaper and more efficient than snail mail and me re-filling out the forms with same information.   On 2/28/09, I again contacted my Representative Pete Stark by e-mail and called Governor Schwarzenegger’s local SF office.  Some one named Nancy did respond and gave me a ‘direct phone number’ to Sacramento.  I called that, asked for some sort of ETA or follow up. No response – it is Monday 3/2/09.

Do you remember the scene in the book Infinite Jest where the brick mason is trying to explain to his insurance company how he broke his bones….well this is my version.  I so wish DFW was alive to enjoy this miasma of governmental truth.