(The redacted version of this story was published by the Voice of San Diego on 16 December 2009.)
If you have ever tried to contact the California Employment Development Department, then you know that you have entered the tenth circle of Dante’s Hell from which there is no exit. This is noteworthy because The Dark One himself is half-encased in ice on the ninth level in the center of Cocytus, along with other traitors and miscreants. But then this should come as no surprise to taxpayers domiciled in the Golden State.
We’ve been witnessing various levels of fraud and malice from State Government since long before the current economic downturn. It has just become a lot more pronounced lately since the State Treasury is, once again, well over a billion dollars in debt and counting.
Back in July, Treasury was issuing registered warrants, which is a sugar coated way of referring to an IOU. And with each successive budget approval, Ahnold and the Democrat-controlled State Legislature has given, and, continues to give numerous tax breaks to their corporate pals at the expense of social services to everyone else during the worst economic crises in California since the Great Depression.
According to data compiled by the EDD, the unemployment rate for the State for the month of October was 12.5%, with double digit percentages for each of the 58 counties. What this means in practical terms to anyone with an unemployment claim is that if you should need to contact the EDD, then you will spend a great majority of your time dialing and redialing the UI line only to reach automated announcement hell.
Once inside the gates, the caller is assaulted with varying announcements. The message exhorting the claimant to file on the website is especially long due to the overly careful articulation of the URL address. The EDD wants to make certain that you don’t interrupt their day by filing a claim over the phone. It’s off to the interwebs for you, you worthless douche. You just lost your job, and you don’t know how you’re going to make rent this month, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have an Internet connection.
If the caller stays on the line long enough, then he will eventually hear all of the latest miscellaneous hot air breathlessly spewed by the ditzy voicemail actress. And just when you think you’ve reached the end because the voice prompt tells you that your call is being transferred, the line is disconnected due to “current call volumes.”
The claimant then has to call back when the lines aren’t so tied up, but there is never a time when the EDD UI line isn’t on overload. Funny how all those infusions of fresh employees and extended hours isn’t enough to help the EDD get its act together to handle demand.
Even during times of plenty, getting a live rep on the line was like finding a parking spot at the mall on Black Friday, but now, you have a better chance of being struck by lightning twice than you do of reaching a live rep at the EDD.
If you are not fully acquainted with those odds, allow me to refresh your memory.
Red Tape At Its Finest
The EDD exemplifies everything that is wrong with a government run bureaucracy staffed by unaccountable, life time employees. The claimant is already demoralized and behind the financial eight-ball, but now, he also gets to experience the special brand of clusterfuck that only the EDD can provide. And, just as a bonus, it’s all part of the EDDs FUBAR goodliness!
Trust Us, We’re Here to Help You
Withholding information is considered fraudulent, and, is punishable by fine and/or a permanent denial of benefits. This was a lesson that I had learned the hard way years ago after my first pink slip party when I was still employed in the I.T. industry.
There was a grand total of $5.00 that went unreported, a fact that the bureaucrats at the EDD seized upon immediately. It was an oversight on my part; I neglected to accurately report the income I had earned from a temp job.
The EDD moved faster to disqualify me for fraud than they did when I was initially laid off and opened the claim. If only Congress had put in a fraction of comparable oversight on the bailouts, AIG et al. wouldn’t be living large dispensing million dollar bonuses to the same people who caused the current economic meltdown.
But if you indicate on the form of your already established claim that you have changed your address, were paid a few hours as an independent contractor, or worked as a temp, then any of these items will typically cause a red flag to be raised and a telephonic interview to be scheduled. And because the EDD is so backlogged, you can count on at least a month or longer delay to your claim subsequent to that scheduled telephonic. Translation: All payments are stopped.
My latest encounter with the merciless indifference of the faceless bureaucracy came when an individual identifying himself as a supervisor contacted me to inform me that he had “mistakenly” canceled my telephonic interview, and, was unable to reschedule it because the computerized system would not allow him to. He then went on to detail to me how overworked and unnerved EDD employees had become as a result of the furloughs.
Imagine my concern for his plight. Not only was I getting screwed out of my check that month due to their mistake, but I was also treated to the official sob story as to how bad state workers have it because of the economy. Now that’s what I call a shit sandwich special with a heaping helping side of insult to injury.
I guess it never occurred to the wizards at the EDD that the claimants they deal with on a daily basis are unemployed, just like it probably never occurs to them that the rancor towards government employees expressed by the general public is specifically attributable to stunts such as inexplicably canceling telephonic interviews and otherwise delaying claims. Six figure pensions are merely the tip of that iceberg.
The claimant has absolutely no recourse when monies are delayed due to bureaucratic red tape. If you want your claim to remain open, then you will take a great big bite of the shit sandwich that is being served and like it. The EDD doesn’t care that you’re about to be evicted because your rent is late; it doesn’t care that your utilities have been or are about to be disconnected; The EDD doesn’t care because it doesn’t have to.
Take Heed, Young Jedi
My advice to anyone with an open UI claim is to:
- Keep a file with everything the EDD sends you;
- Keep copies of everything, including the weekly claim form and UI checks;
- Take notes on telephonic interviews and especially the names of any rep you spoke with;
- Read your DE1275A manual, AKA, A Guide to Benefits and Employment Services.
- Don’t rely on either the EDD or the Force to explain your rights or obligations to you.
Good luck with your claim.
©2009 Peyton Farquhar™ and Prattle On, Boyo™. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Peyton Farquhar™ and Prattle On, Boyo™ with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.