SACRAMENTO, Calif. — David Petty’s unemployment payments from the Employment Development Department stopped suddenly.
“It went until January 26. Just out of the blue they froze my account,” he told ABC10’s Dollars and Sense team.
It took a while to get an answer, but Petty says it was about a month later that an EDD rep told him over the phone that his identity needed to be verified, which he says he did.
“I got a verification number and that was it. I never received anything in the mail from them as far as what to do,” he said.
Petty kept certifying for benefits and called once a week to check on the status of his account. In early April he thought his problem was solved.
“A specialist told me that she was going to release my funds,” Petty said, “so I went ahead and told my family.”
When he didn’t get access to his funds after a few days, Petty called the EDD back only to be told by another representative that nothing had changed.
Petty says he wishes the specialist who told him he would have his money soon had handled things differently.
“If she just told me that was still under review, I would have been fine with it But she went ahead and just told me what I wanted to hear, basically to get me off the phone,” he said.
It wasn’t an easy thing for him to process.
“It was gut-wrenching. It hurt.”
That’s when he contacted his State Sen. Melissa Melendez, (R - 28th State Senate District). She says David’s story isn’t unique.
“I can tell you from the conversations that I've had with my staff who deal with these cases every single day, every week, it doesn't seem to be getting better,” Melendez said. “We've had a number of problems with EDD saying that cases have been resolved when they actually haven't been resolved. Them saying, ‘OK, your funds will be pending, you will get your funds in a couple of days,' (and) that doesn't happen.”
Melendez says it’s likely connected to the enormous backlog of claims the EDD is facing.
“It does seem like they're trying to get through this backlog to show some progress, but the problem is, the progress isn't actually being made if the cases aren't being resolved,” Melendez said.
The Senator thinks there need to be more legislative hearings with EDD’s leadership, like the ones held earlier this year, to get some accountability.
“They're going to have to answer some very tough questions, some very pointed questions, because we have done this drill before with them,” Melendez said. “We were assured that everything was being taken care of the improvements were being made, and the recommendations were taken into account and being acted upon, and we don't see that happening.”
ABC10 reached out to the EDD for a statement on more than one occasion, but they have yet to comment.