Frustrated by EDD? Here's where you can go for help

Raymond Drescher, 45, was laid off as a security guard during the pandemic and had been receiving monthly checks for several months until California's Employment Development Department told him that he was a perpetrator of fraud and they cut him off.

The accusation of theft is bogus, Drescher says. 

But while trying to prove his innocence, he said he got stuck in the equivalent of unemployment purgatory, trying in vain to convince a customer representative that he is who he says he is. He also got the electronic runaround from another website,, where he said he was able to upload his real identity, but with no success in proving that to EDD. He figures that he's owed $6,000 to date. 

"It’s very frustrating for me and my family," Drescher said. "I'm barely making it. If it weren't for food stamps, I wouldn't be eating. I’m just stuck in a rut. I’m very angry. Extremely angry. I have nobody to turn to."

Your elected legislator can help

In fact, Drescher, who lives in Crockett, and California's 40 million residents do have somewhere to turn to for help: State legislators all receive funding to hire temporary staff dedicated to helping their constituents with EDD problems, including a personal liaison to the unemployment agency. 

And EDD has its share of problems. 

The agency has been blasted for withholding payments, using antiquated software and being duped by criminals by the very lawmakers now dedicated to helping fix the myriad of problems for their residents. To date, EDD has paid a total of $162 billion but also has nearly 250,000 claims that have been been backlogged three weeks or more, according to the state's dashboard. 

MORE: California EDD can't freeze unemployment checks, must 'pay now' during eligibility investigations

No one is tallying exactly how many people have called their legislative offices, which includes both the Assembly and Senate.

But Assemblyman Phil Ting's San Francisco office has received, and cleared, more than 2,000 cases in the last 16 months, alone. 


Laura Eastridge Murphy, the formal "scheduler" for Ting's office, has personally worked on 405 of those cases, often juggling 45 people's problems at a time. 

Laura Eastridge Murphy, the formal "scheduler" for Ting's office, has personally worked on 405 of those cases, often juggling 45 people's problems at a time. 

The office has had a more-than-90% success rate, according to Ting's staff. 

That includes helping "untangle a very, very messy" case of missing payments to a woman who was wrongly cut off by EDD and another woman whose debit card was hacked. It took her three months to work with Bank of America on the latter case and the woman recently got $2,000 restored on her card, Eastridge Murphy said.

"The biggest thrill of my day is to close an EDD case," Eastridge Murphy said. "People are so grateful to get paid. It just makes may day." 

Constituent cases resolved

Johanna Hurlock's day was made when someone else in Ting's office helped her break through an EDD cone of silence.

Hurlock was furloughed from her hospitality sales job early in the pandemic but her claim was rejected by EDD without any explanation.

After two months of not getting any answers, she contacted Ting's office and heard back from someone within an hour.

In the end, Ting's staff and the office's personal EDD liaison figured out that her company mistakenly was taking out unemployment benefits and sending them to Florida, which is why California wasn't paying them. Ting's office got both EDD offices in both states to talk and work out Hurlock's situation.

"It felt amazing," she said, after getting her rightful checks. "It really makes me believe in local government."

Ting and other lawmakers say that on the one hand, it's their job to help their constituents and they are happy to help people like Hurlock and others in need. 

EDD ‘social workers’

On the other hand, they say, they were involuntary and reluctantly thrust into the role of "EDD social worker." 

"Government is supposed to be there for its people, especially now when they need help the most," Ting said. "Based on that metric alone, EDD has failed to deliver. I’m frustrated that EDD was not prepared for the volume of claims brought on by the pandemic more than a decade after the Great Recession, which should have identified needed improvements for the department. Ongoing delays have had real life consequences." 

State Sen. John Becker, (D-Menlo Park) said his office has dedicated three to four employees to help constituents navigate the complicated governmental bureaucracy – something that a legislator is supposed to do.

MORE: California inmates indicted in $1.4M EDD fraud scheme, feds say

"What's been unusual," Becker said, "is the volume of requests and the amount of staff time that has to be directed to helping with EDD."

His office has worked on slightly more than 500 cases. 

The work has been both "rewarding" and "exhausting," he said, adding that spending time on EDD cases means his staff is stretched in other areas. 


Raymond Drescher, 45, was laid off as a security guard during the pandemic and has not received EDD payments for seven months. 

Many Californians still don't know who to turn to

But despite these legislative successes, there are countless Californians who have no idea who their elected politician is, let alone that their lawmaker can help them with their unemployment check mess. 

"I had no idea," said Leilani Martinez, 21, of Milpitas, a laid-off medical assistant whose personal identification was stolen earlier this year, causing EDD not only to not pay her, but to charge her money for funds that were most likely sent to someone else. 

She said she reported the fraud and even has a claim ID number, but EDD is still likely sending checks to the thieves who stole her ID.

When KTVU alerted her to the fact that her elected representative could help her this week, she called and emailed that office but so far hasn't heard back from anyone to see if they'll help her. 

Drescher also called and emailed his legislator after being told about the possibility of being helped. He, too, though didn't immediately hear back. 

In the meantime, he's at wits end. His wife works part-time, but they haven't paid their rent in six months and he worries about how he'll support his 13-year-old daughter. He's been out looking for work, but has been told he's overqualified for the security jobs he's applied to.

"It’s extremely tough," he said. "I have no other place to turn. I've got to get my story out there and see what happens. I need help."

Legislators can only help constituents in their district. To find your legislator, click here. 

Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez